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Corruption as an immanent feature of neoliberalism

It is possible to drain the swamp?

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended books Recommended Links "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Senator Bob Menendez
  Casino Capitalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories  Corruption of Regulators New American Militarism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Two Party System as polyarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult The Deep State Harvard Mafia Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom'
Elite Theory The Iron Law of Oligarchy Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Anti-globalization movement Inverted Totalitarism
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Media-Military-Industrial Complex If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths Jeremy Grantham On The Fall Of Civilizations Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Neoliberal corruption White collar crime Neo-fascism Neocons as USA neo-fascists Corporatism   Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
The Great Transformation   Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen Gangster Capitalism
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy  John Kenneth Galbraith Alternatives to neoliberalism Globalization of Financial Flows Humor Etc

Introduction

 The discussion below is reproduced with minor changes from  idec.gr (work in progress)

No political system is exempt from corruption and in my opinion this outcome might even be somehow inexorable due to the nature of a state based polity. The difference between  the European systems in particular but also, at the limit, the American one and those societies the US hypocritically claim as corrupt might be mainly based not on the extent of corruption, but on different types of corruption used. Partially this might be due to the fact that younger society which are still in formation  exhibit more "primitive" types of corruption then societies which have already passed the middle-age period in their life cycle. Revolving door corruption is rampant in the USA, but not so popular in Russia, Iran and other "younger" countries.  Old style bribes at the same time are more common in Russia, although in many cases they function not as bribe but as a kind of private insurance again prejudice/friction of the system: they help to prevent bias in the system or speed up processing of  a request,  but not materially affect outcome.

And to answer your question: "how to prevent the hijacking of public interest by state officials; protect the society form abuse of  the possibility of extracting private benefit inherent in large power of the state official?"

But there is another aspect of corruption which is pretty modern in origin. The dominant Western perspective on "governance" failed to highlight the major source of corruption -- neoliberalism as a social system. 

The neoliberal anti-corruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalization. It is variant of "blame the poor" (countries) line when instead of blaming neoliberal reforms themselves, neoliberals try to divert the attention from neoliberalism as a powerful force of enabling corruption  by highlighting other contributing factors such as

Over recent years,  IMF and World Bank have been promoting an artificially constructed discourse on corruption that separates it from its historic narrative -- the neoliberal political system under which it now flourish. They use pretty elaborate smoke screen designed to hide the key issues under the set of fuzzy terms such as "transparency", "accountability", "governance", "anticorruption initiatives". Ignoring the socio-political role of corruption of key mechanism of the neoliberal debt enslavement of peripheral nations  (see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - Wikipedia

As Wikipedia points out there is no universally accepted definition of corruption. In this sense privatization might well be the most widespread type of corruption which occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity to sell government property for pennies on the dollar to local oligarchs of international companies. with delayed payment via the "revolving door" mechanism.

If we assume that corruption is 'illegitimate use of government power to benefit a private interest" then neoliberalism is the most corrupt social system imaginable.

But in neoliberal ideology only the state is responsible for corruption. The private sector under neoliberalism is immune of any responsibility. In reality it is completely opposite and state represents a barrier to private companies especially international sharks to get unfair advantage. And they can use the USA embassy as a source of pressure instead of bribing government officials. Neoliberals argues without any proof that if the market is let to function through its own mechanisms, and the role of state diminished to a minimum regulatory role, "good governance" could be realized and corruption be diminished. As US subprime crisis has shown this is untrue and destroys the stability of the economy. 

Actually the term "governance" serves as the magical universal opener in neoliberal ideology. It is ideologically grounded up the narrative of previous mismanagement of economy ("blame the predecessor" trick).

This assumes the ideal economic sphere, in which players somehow get an equal opportunities automatically without regulatory role of the state and in case of peripheral nations without being strong armed by more powerful states. Under neoliberalism ethical responsibilities on players are reduced to the loyalty to contract.

Moreover antisocial behavior under liberalism is explicitly promoted (" greed is good") -- self-enrichment at the expense of others and society as a whole. Also the Western banks serve as a "treasure vault" for stolen money and Western states provides "safe heaven" for corrupt officials that face prosecution. At least this is true for Russian oligarchs when each crook automatically became "fighter for freedom" after landing in London airport and stolen money are indirectly appropriated by British state and never returned to Russia.

The USA is very similar. It likes to condemn corruption as but seldom returns that money stolen -- for example it never returned to Ukraine money stolen by Ukrainian Prime minister under President Kuchma Pavlo Lazarenko ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlo_Lazarenko  )

Moreover in neoliberal ideology only the state is responsible for corruption, private sector under neoliberalism is immune of any responsibility. In reality it is completely opposite and state represents a barrier to private companies attempts to get unfair advantage, for example by bribing government officials. Neoliberals argues without any proof that if the market is let to function through its own mechanisms, and the role of state diminished to  a minimum regulatory role, "good governance" could be realized and corruption be diminished. As US subprime crisis has shown this is untrue and deregulation policies destroys the stability of the economy.

Actually the term "governance" serves as the magical universal opener in neoliberal ideology. It is ideologically grounded up in the narrative of previous mismanagement of economy ("blame the predecessor" trick). It also assumes the ideal economic sphere, in which players somehow get an equal opportunities automatically without regulatory role of the state. Ethical responsibilities on players are reduced to the loyalty to contract. Antisocial behaviour is explicitly promoted (" greed is good").  As Pope Francis noted

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Neoliberals limit ethical component to adhering to contracts. However, the contracts themselves might be corrupt, or it can be forces upon other party under duress. It is important to see all those trick neoliberals use and develop a critical stance towards the Western anti-corruption "crusade" of the last decade. At least disclose all the hypocrisy behind it.  this is especially important as "corruption" serves as matches to flare up  "color revolutions" -- a new war strategy of penetrating of international capital into peripheral countries.

The key neoliberal argument is that corruption is an obstacle to "good governance" and economic development. They never evaluate corruption within a wider ethical frame as for example Pope Francis does, not they discuss the implications of neoliberal reforms on social rights.

In ethics corruption refers to a domination of social relations by self-interest and to the perception of fellow citizens as instruments, obstacles or competitors. “In the morally corrupt society, civic virtue and social responsibility are displaced and discarded in favor of an intense competition for spoils.” In neoliberal thinking, however, the term is narrowly defined referring to the misuse of public office for private gain by bureaucrats, which is just a tip of the iseberg, because it is the other party -- powerful translational or local oligarchs who are buying those government officials.

Thus the drastic shift in in defining the term after the 1980s coincide with triumphant mach of neoliberalism over the world.  While the state was supposed to produce public interest and common good before then, the emphasis shifted in the neoliberal era to the opportunities that public power provided for individual rent-seeking. This is harmonious with the assumptions of neoliberal approach to governance, which treats the state as an economic entity.

The notion of good governance  under neoliberalism  typically means market reforms and their political framework of deregulation and privatization. In reality both are cesspool of corruption. As the business started to build direct ties with the bureaucracy it automatically obtains a greater role in decision making, and as the capacity of the state to facilitate private personal rents in the market increased. So corruption served much to the restoration of the power of financial oligarchy under neoliberalism. Neoliberalism discard the necessity of national and planned development model of the Keynesian era in terms of facilitating and accelerating capital redistribution and accumulation, especially in transition economies. It is ironic that a neoliberal anti-corruption campaign led to tremendous level of corruption of privatization of industry in xUSSR countries and establishing (with direct help of the West)  a strata of powerful, corrupt, often criminal and closely linked to the West oligarchs.

This, on the other hand, the notion of corruption under neoliberalism is conceptualized in such a way that trivialize the value of state intervention in the economy, discard any notion of public interest, and even of national priorities in politics. In order to reverse the neoliberal domination as the ideology it is important to stress the fact that under neoliberalism the whole the arena over which market competition occurred is corrupt.  The players are not only unethical they are often criminal as recent investigation of TBTF banks had shown. This way is easier to bring ethics back into discussion of corruption and start to understand the without state interference it is impossible to have a fair market. Please note that neoliberals try to avoid discussion the notion of "fair market" substituting it with "free market" misnomer, which idealize the market  as the sphere of voluntary action and freedom. In reality it is far from that and in unregulated market bigger players simply squash or swallow  the small fish.

The Neoliberal Discourse on Corruption

The neoliberal discourse on corruption is based on a certain set of assumptions about state-society relations and on a certain stance about the role of state in economy. As Pinar Bedirhanoğlu argues, “the neoliberal conception of corruption is ahistoric, biased, contradictory and politicized, and has been induced by concerns over market competition rather than morality.” This is because neoliberal conceptualization of corruption has fulfilled significant functions in globalized economy and politics, particularly at moments of financial crisis, such as the 1997 East Asian financial crisis and in Turkey after the 2001 crisis.

 The neoliberal anti-corruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalisation and second generation of neoliberal reforms themselves by highlighting the so-called long history of crony state–business relations and patrimonial state in the South, referring either to the heritage of the ‘strong state tradition’ in Turkey, ‘the communist past’ in Russia, or the ‘corporatist past’ in Latin America.

 Identifying corruption either with the inherent characteristics of bureaucrats and politicians (this way distorting the key idea of public administration  -- providing service to the people) or traditional and cultural characteristics of certain regions helps idealizing the Western political and economic model under the name ‘good governance’. This approach also served for the world elites to partially overcome the legitimacy crisis that the Western states experienced since the 1980s by articulating the demand of democratic reforms ("export of democracy"), the language of "good governance", transparency, and building civil society (at the same time under this rhetoric destroying all the social achievements of welfare state). Using its dominance in MSM neoliberals manage to brainwash public to the extent it start behaving contrary to its own economic interests, and in the interests of financial oligarchy (What's the matter with Kansas)

Neoliberals stress that enlargement of market relations and reduction in state functions would provide not only economic efficiency but also freedom and democracy, by breaking up the monopolization of power. The market is accepted as the sphere of freedom since transactions within it are voluntary and decentralized. New Right theoreticians argue that freedom is the individual control over choices, and it is best exercised in a market economy.

Concept of "Governance" and forceful suppression of discussion of links between political and economical spheres of society

By the 1970s neolibrals started to remove "the excesses of democracy" of New Deal and European Welfare states. Cosial reforms on New Deal era were condemned for the economic troubles during the decade, as was also the Keynesian economy o which they were based.  Organized labour and mass movements were suppressed and as they deemed  to be incompatible with unconstrained capitalist accumulation.

Keynesianism was blamed for expanding political decisions into the realm of economics, as if the desired non-political character of economy in not just another policy, just favoring big ploayers instead of small fish. It if such approach is not political. Welfare reforms came to be regarded as an anomaly, as an obstance to economic development. And crusing orgnized labour was presented as return to the normal distinction between economic and political spheres. However, the "de-economization" of politics under neoliebral was just a smoke screen decsined to hide accesnce to power of finacnial olitachy, the political force supressed by New Deal. So it was a countrrevolution not a revolution. And instead of promotion of democracy it resulted in promotion of  authoritarianism ans police state (national Security State) were protection of financial olitarchy is disguied as "fight against terrorisrm". Public debate on the policy of taxation, privatization, on the forced retreat of state from social sectors, about the level of autonomy of Central Bank etc., was forcefully supressed.

So, to maintain the neolibel system the elites forcefully suppress and hide the relationship between economy and politics.

The term ‘governance’ started to be positively used by all parties to describe the political form of global market economy. It is defined as ‘governance without government’. Theories of governance argued that while government refers to formal acts and procedures at state level, governance is based on a network of informal relations at all levels. It assumes an interdependency between nations, between nations and international organizations, and between nations and transnational or subnational structures.

Governance aims at organizing the state and social life in general, along market relations. Even the state itself is dealt as if it is a business administration job. Politics is identified with corruption, nepotism, partisanship etc., and the parliamentarian and political party systems are regarded negatively as sources of populism, which harmed much the functioning of the economy.8

Making economic decisions turned out to be the job of technocrats, who were claimed to be neutral professionals applying the objective rules of the game called economy. Legislation and regulation are increasingly carried out by non-parliamentary and non-governmental agents. A neo-corporatist structure is developing in which interest groups and specialized policy networks represent themselves in a market-like sphere of politics. As expert knowledge “as opposed to popular, common-sensical, everyday knowledge” of the people tends to prevail, the democracy of citizens is being replaced by the democracy of organized interest and lobbies. So, as Jean Grugel states, globalisation

Use of "fight with corruption" as the Trojan horse for neoliberalization of economy

The neoliberal anticorruption campaign served to hide the problems inherent in economic liberalisation and second generation of neoliberal reforms themselves by highlighting the so-called long history of crony state – business relations and patrimonial state in the South. Governance are not neutral processes with regard to their effects on state and society.10 The neoliberal discourse on corruption should be dealt accordingly. According to the neoliberal approach state is regarded as “the simple sum of profit maximising bureaucrats and politicians”, and corruption is assumed to arise for the rents created by the holding of offices. It is perceived as if exploitation and corruption are intrinsic characteristics of the state itself rather than representing its abuse. The underlying state– market dichotomy has led to an understanding of corruption primarily as a problem of the state.11 Those corrupt actions which necessitate the existence of public power –the state- as one of the parties of a mutual relation, such as bribery or extortion are mostly emphasized in the literature. Fraud or embezzlement, on the other hand, can be found in the private sector as well. While control mechanisms and measures are regarded sufficient in the private sector and corruption cases are not related to the nature of the property ownership, the state cannot benefit from such an exemption. This cannot be evaluated independently from the neoliberal attack against public ownership. It is for certain that public power is manipulated to gain economic advantage but so is economic power in private sphere.

Neoliberal discourse assumes that corruption is a phenomenon of the public sector. This interpretation “obscures the rising possibilities for private sector corruption caused by market-led economic reforms and has little to say about the complex linkages between abuses in the private and public sectors”.

Neoliberals regard the public sector as the major source of corruption, which is explained through the rent-seeking behaviour of individual public servants. This is based upon highly questionable conceptualizations of human motivation and a very poor understanding of the state. Their major objective is limited to explaining how the activities of public servants distort the efficient functioning of markets.

Ed Brown and Jonathan Cloke counter the view that the state is inherently more prone to corruption than the private sector. They argue that this, for example, leads to a lack of recognition of the opportunities for corruption that privatization and deregulation have provided. Even the World Bank accepts that transition to market economy has created fertile ground for corruption.

Since neoliberal discourse has a very limited conceptual understanding of the nature and functioning of the state and its relation to civil society, there appears certain inconsistencies. For example the writers refer to contradiction between the creation of new public bodies within institutional reform programmes and the assumption that public officials are primarily motivated by self-interest, and they question the hidden assumption that the workers within those anti-corruption offices were likely to be less corrupt than other public sector workers claimed to be naturally prone to rent-seeking behaviour.

Putting “public sector corruption as the most severe impediment to development and growth”, and moreover, claiming such things that bribery “distorts sectoral priorities and technology choices (by, for example, creating incentives to contract for large defence projects rather than rural health clinics specializing in preventive care)” is unfair and misleading. Corrupt behaviour is not limited to state officials; idealizing private sector actions while attacking state sector is at best naive. It is impossible to deny the motives for unethical behaviour in private sector and it is claimed that even the economic liberalization after 1980s, pointed as the solution of corruption problems, opened the path of corporate corruptions.

Since 1990s anti-corruption agenda has been promoted in developing countries through the reform programmes of the international financial institutions. It is not easy to determine whether an overall increase in corruption led to the anti-corruption campaign. Critical studies highlight the instrumentalization of anti-corruption discourse. Ed Brown and Jonathan Cloke argue that there was little reliable evidence to determine if corruption levels had been worsening or whether there has simply been increasing legal and public recognition of corruption cases or perhaps even the conscious manipulation of public sensitivity about the issue.

The example of Turkey is worth mentioning. Coming to the office to recover Turkish economy after the Keynesianism was blamed for expanding political decisions into the realm of economics, as if the desired non-political character of economy was not something political. (14 Ibid., p 287-91 and P. Bedirhanoğlu, “The Neoliberal Discourse on Corruption as a Means of Consent) 2001 financial crisis, Minister of Economic Affairs, now the UNDP President Kemal Derviş, have then explained the causes of the crisis with reference to the corrupt banking structure in Turkey and skilfully introduced the neoliberal discourse that associates anti-corruption porely with failures of  the implementation of the neoliberal reforms.

Through this discourse, neoliberal institutionalisation in Turkey which had been proceeding back and forth because of the resistance of various social forces for about a decade accelerated. Since this competition-induced concern over corruption was articulated within the moral based debates in domestic politics, the strategy received public consent.

The international ‘crusade’ against corruption does not fight with corruption itself but in the first place “promotes commerce, uniformity in commercial law and the associated disciplines of the market as indirect constraints on the conduct of states themselves”. In this respect, Barry Hindess regards the international anti-corruption campaign labelled as the promotion of good governance as an updated version of the older system of capitulations, which required independent states to acknowledge the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Western states in the area of commercial law.

Many scholars underline the conscious attempt of neoliberals to use corruption as a strategy for enabling neoliberal policies and try to demonstrate the consequences or by-products of international anti-corruption campaign of the last decade. One of those consequences is the strengthening of executive power and the growing role of international financial institutions. To overcome this problems that undermine state legitimacy, politics of civil society is gradually articulated in the campaign.

Despite their anti-state stance neoliberals are well aware of the continuing functions of state as a coercive and legitimizing body in regulating society. A central role is attached to the state in the launching of anticorruption policies. Pinar Bedirhanoğlu describes this as “to put the foxes in charge of the chicken house if it is recalled that corruption is assumed to be intrinsic to the state in rentier state theories”. To balance the state and prevent it from following a national program external pressure imposed by international financial institutions, NGOs, private sector, autonomous regulatory agencies, regional development agencies is applied. Rent-creation capacity of these bodies are usually disregarded. Practical monopoly of technical expertise makes such institutions extremely powerful and unaccountable.

As to the NGOs, in our case to those fighting against corruption, the question below is worth asking: “Can NGOs and similar organizations really help socialize citizens into the system, or do they rather represent a means by which citizens abdicate responsibility for active citizenship, and leave responsibility for political engagement with NGO staff?”.

Demet Dinler states that anti-corruption measures were functional in the redefinition of the relationship between the economic and the political. They emerged as a legitimating mechanism to justify market reforms and the separation of the economic from the political, because the ‘failure’ of the first generation reforms we explained by the continuing dominance of the political over the economic. “Corruption has been conceptualized as a ‘purely political’ phenomenon, related only to the politicians and their bureaucratic companions, by ignoring the major role of the businessmen in corruption and rentseeking.”

While the neoliberal concern on corruption is market-based and competition-induced at the international level, the domestic debates on corruption rest on moral grounds. This, according to Pınar Bedirhanoğlu, indicate different attitudes of capital and popular classes towards corruption. That of the latter seems to provide a more political ground. Corruption is undoubtedly harmful to the public interest through whatever medium we build the relation. However, it would be in vain to expect that the funds “rescued from the grasp of the corrupt public servant or politician” will be spent on good causes, such as education or health facilities for the poor.

The discourse of governance reduces morality to the loyalty to contract. However, we argue that the contract itself might be corrupt, if corruption is defined in ethical terms as the public opinion perceives it. The next part of the study will deal with the collapse of welfare policies and the transformation of labor market in this framework. 

A neoliberals also develop , cultivate and support interest groups and specialized policy networks which promotes neoliberalism and separation of politics and economics.

Attack of social rights as the mean to restore profitability in the environment of end of "cheap oil"

In the aftermath of the depression, the WWII and Keynesian revolution, the state actively intervened into the economy, helping to manage the conflicts arising from market competition In terms of its institutional and policy role, social provision was central to accumulation, helping to socialize consumption over the life-course and the reproduction of labor power. The success of the consolidation and expansion of welfare systems in virtually every Western country from 1950 through the early 1970s had two profound consequences for the political economy of welfare systems today. First, any attack on or defense of a welfare system must now operate along three distinct, yet interrelated, spheres: the economic, political and the cultural. Second, with welfare systems so successfully integrated into the institutional make-up of nations, the politics of welfare encompass far more than political wheeling and dealing over national budgets. Although expenditure levels remain important, the politics of welfare are increasingly about a nation’s class, racial, generational, and gender divisions. As an object of struggle and conflict, then, welfare politics reflect the interest of myriad social forces, such as employers’ associations, poverty groups, small business, social movements, and trade unions. Recent conflict over welfare systems has been intense, with government action from above and recipient reaction from below being very contentious.

However, both the ‘Golden Age’ of capitalism and the ‘Golden Age’ of social reforms came to an end with the worldwide economic slump of 1974-82, a crisis which covered two distinct generalized recessions separated by a weak recovery. In a long and drawn out process, the 1974-82 economic slump led to a new consensus in economic policy across the advanced capitalist economies. In the early 1980s, a neoliberals started a real offensive with the distinct goals of engineering an economic recovery and restoring profitability by redistributing the wealth up.

Destruction of New Deal and Welfare-state Social Policies

In altering the parameters of state intervention, neoliberalism rejected and turned away from the post-war reliance on the social right and more fair distribution of the results of  economic activity. The return of mass unemployment, industrial downsizing, the liberalization of capital flows and a rearticulating of hegemony of financial capital all changed the terrain of capitalist relations, destroying the post-war accord between the capital and labor.  Through neoliberalism coercive redistribution of wealth up started in full force. The emerging stage of ‘transnational capitalism’ is marked by high levels of capital mobility and economic integration between countries (some reduced to supplies of raw materials, like in classic neocolonialism) and defined by capital’s interaction with multiple states and an intensification of international competition. In this new political economic context, welfare systems are facing a number of transformatory pressures, including the erosion of government autonomy over social provision, integration induced convergent welfare effects and welfare system rivalry.

Neoliberal transformation of society put strong downward pressure on welfare systems. Apart from weakening organized labor outright, neoliberalism targets the economic, social and political costs of welfare. As John O’Connor argues for most of the 1990s, welfare systems in the advanced capitalist countries were the object of intense conflict between employers and workers. Governments fought hard to cut the cost of pensions, health care and benefit payments, while unions struggled to protect their longstanding social gains.26 In reshaping welfare systems, employers have been seeking to lower costs, improve labor market flexibility and reduce budget deficits. This is all being done to further international competitiveness and to help restore profitability. Defensive struggles over welfare systems have not been able to stop the retrenchment of social provision. Governments have embarked also on strategies of shifting the role of public and private sector via massive privatization of state assets, in which the private sector acquired public sector assets (as well as responsibilities and activities at discounted prices. Neoliberal policies resulted in globalization of capital and goods flows. It also led to mass outsourcing / off-shoring of whole industries to third world countries. The capability of swashing the cost of labor has been an important factor for multinational corporations. That is why reducing the cost of labor has been a major area by developing countries to compete against each other. Instead of permanent employment neoliberalism prefers the part-time labor / contractor  economy, were employees have not  social rights and minimal social protection.

There is a growing sense that social policies are taking new directions as policy debates move from an earlier embrace of privatization and marketization, to the task of retooling the state to face new social risks and to reproduce the social (social cohesion, social capital, social inclusion, social economy).27 Welfare system today have been openly scrutinized and challenged by Neoliberal approaches have regarded the public sector as the major source of corruption, which is explained through the rentseeking behaviour of individual public servants, politicians, employers, citizens, and tax payers as never before in the vast majority of Western nations. The roots of this scrutiny and challenge have been the subject of much political and scholarly debate. As economic globalisation has progressed, nation states have forfeited sovereignty to supra-national organizations and treaties, such as the Group of Seven, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Union (NAFTA). These agencies and Organisations represent a complicated shift in political economic governance from the domestic level toward the supranational.29 With trans-state accumulation, there has been a move within many nations to move from ‘discretionary-based’ to ‘rule-based’ policy making.

This move toward rules is an attempt to implement mechanisms that automatically force domestic policy to reflect the changes associated with the global economy; e.g., the EU, the WTO, the IMF or World Bank.

Welfare retrenchment is sold to the public in terms of it being more a dictate of rules or logic of the global economy. Welfare systems are viewed now as national luxuries that cannot be afforded in the global economy. Given the enhanced exit options in today’s world, the political relationship among capital, the state and welfare coalitions have been recast. Capital mobility – or the threat of capital mobility – has the effect of forcing workers/unions and welfare coalitions into making concessions.31 Because capital is mobile, it can take an extremely aggressive stance in wage bargaining or in political negotiations. Trans-state accumulation has enhanced the power of capital, while leaving labour and welfare coalitions politically impotent. In addition to the usual concern over immigration, unemployment and population aging, it is obvious that governments in Europe and North America point to the pressures of economic globalisation as being one of the main reasons behind social cutbacks.

This offensive against the public sector in general and social systems in particular is universal and the language of globalisation has been central to this neoliberal assault.

As with the recasting of class relations, remaking the mode of production and reorganizing accumulation, neoliberalism seeks to restructure labour markets, making them more responsive to competitive forces. The integration of domestic economies has opened the door to welfare system social dumping effects, in which the benefits and services in one country are lowered the ward off any potential competitive disadvantages relative to another.32 Social dumping effects reflect governments’ concern that high ‘social cost’ will undermine a nation’s international competitiveness.

Given the rapid changes in the world market and the intensification of competition, an adaptable workforce and flexibility in the hiring and firing of workers are considered valuable economic assets. In general terms, economic flexibility can refer to the ability of capitalist enterprises to adjust their productive strategies, the ability of workers to move from one job to another and the ability of wage levels to move according to prevailing economic conditions.33

The early 1980s employers’ offensive was launched to restore profitability. neoliberal transformative action aimed to reorder post-war capitalism’s structural and institutional arrangements. This neoliberal reordering unleashed the economic transforming tendencies of state rationalisation, market contestability, and factor mobility (‘coercive competition’) on all nations. The importance of coercive competition is that it simultaneously acted on and transcended domestic institutional-policy frameworks.

In this new political economic context, domestic social systems faced a number of transformatory pressures, including the erosion of government autonomy over social provision, integration induced convergent welfare effects, and welfare system rivalry. The prime source of retrenchment pressures was that the mobile capital has an aversion to anything that contributes to competitive locational disadvantage. These pressures were dealt with politically determines the nature and scope of welfare system retrenchment. It is obvious that the explanation of globalisation has become a force “helping to create the institutional realities it purportedly merely describes.”34 Recent welfare practice reflects discursive practices that communicate an “apolitical logic of inevitabilism” that rules out all alternatives to globalisation and welfare retrenchment.35 

The early 1980s employers’ offensive was launched to restore profitability. Neoliberal transformative action aimed to reorder post-war capitalism’s structural and institutional arrangements.

Conclusions

As a political strategy neoliberalism tries to restore profitability at the expense of social well-being of population. the problem of corruption is used as smoke screen for penetration into third world countries and for extracting raw materials at low, globalised prices.  Through such organizations as WTO a global market was created where raw materials prices are nearly same in the world and goods can flow globally without borders and customs . This situation transforms the world economies into an open market and also open production islands not just for goods also for services also. That is why the competition continues over labor costs where states can still compete over. This competition made the governments cut out welfare expenditures to reduce costs of production.

Through this neoliberal transformative action and discourse states are eliminating workers post-war social gains and social protections such as  guaranteed pension, health care and benefit payments. This is done  to improve labor market flexibility and reduce budget deficits. Apart from weakening labor rights, neoliberalism also redistributes wealth by eliminating  high taxes to upper brackets of population, reducing the cost of welfare and privatizing those saving by financial sector.

Neoliberalism creates "race to the bottom" -- a competition between developing countries in reducing the cost of labor  and also generates an informal economy without any social rights of labor. Finally both capital mobility and economic integration have undermined the ability of national governments to pursue welfare objectives.

We should label the behaviour of perceiving social rights as a competitiveness tool rather than a means for meeting vital needs of humans a corrupt behaviour. So corruption is an immanent feature of neoliberalism. That sort of normative questions raised by pope Francis helps to understand deeper the role of  corruption in the neoliberal society. In will not be exaggeration to say the neoliberal society is based on corruption.  In other words, by redefinition corruption in terms of domination of social relations by self-interest, and regarding of fellow citizens as instruments, obstacles and competitors, we get deeper understanding of problem of corruption and related straggle against it the neoliberal era. That seems the best possible to fight corruption under neoliberalism is to fight neoliberal policies and to remembrance the ideas of New Deal which provided better the integrity of the economic and the political like of the society.


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[Jul 03, 2020] The Iran Obsession Has Isolated the US

So former tank repairman decided again managed to make a make a mark in world diplomacy :-).
Notable quotes:
"... Mike Pompeo delivered an embarrassing, clownish performance at the U.N. on Tuesday, and his attempt to gain support for an open-ended conventional arms embargo on Iran was rejected the rest of the old P5+1: ..."
"... The Trump administration has abused our major European allies for years in its push to destroy the nuclear deal, and their governments have no patience with any more unilateral U.S. stunts. This is the result of two years of a destructive policy aimed solely at punishing Iran and its people. The administration's open contempt for international law and the interests of its allies has cost the U.S. their cooperation. ..."
"... Underscoring the absurdity of the Trump administration's arms embargo appeal were Pompeo's alarmist warnings that an end to the arms embargo would allow Iran to purchase advanced fighters that it would use to threaten Europe and India: ..."
"... This is a laughably unrealistic scenario. Even if Iran purchased advanced fighters, the last thing it would do is send them off on a suicide mission to bomb Italy or India. This shows how deeply irrational the Iran hawks' fearmongering is. Iran has already demonstrated an ability to launch precise attacks with drones and missiles in its immediate neighborhood, and it developed these capabilities while under the current embargo. ..."
"... The Secretary of State called on the U.N. to reject "extortion diplomacy." The best way to reject extortion diplomacy would be for them to reject the administration's desperate attempt to use America's position at the U.N. to attack international law. ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Mike Pompeo delivered an embarrassing, clownish performance at the U.N. on Tuesday, and his attempt to gain support for an open-ended conventional arms embargo on Iran was rejected the rest of the old P5+1:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Tuesday for an arms embargo on Iran to be extended indefinitely, but his appeal fell flat at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China rejected it outright and close allies of the United States were ambivalent.

The Trump administration is more isolated than ever in its Iran obsession. The ridiculous effort to invoke the so-called "snapback" provision of the JCPOA more than two years after reneging on the agreement met with failure, just as most observers predicted months ago when it was first floated as a possibility. As I said at the time, "The administration's latest destructive ploy won't find any support on the Security Council. There is nothing "intricate" about this idea. It is a crude, heavy-handed attempt to employ the JCPOA's own provisions to destroy it." It was never going to work because all of the other parties to the agreement want nothing to do with the administration's punitive approach, and U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA meant that it forfeited any rights it had when it was still part of the deal.

Opposition from Russia and China was a given, but the striking thing about the scene at the U.N. this week was that major U.S. allies joined them in rebuking the administration's obvious bad faith maneuver:

The pointedly critical tone of the debate saw Germany accusing Washington of violating international law by withdrawing from the nuclear pact, while Berlin aligned itself with China's claim that the United States has no right to reimpose U.N. sanctions on Iran.

The Trump administration has abused our major European allies for years in its push to destroy the nuclear deal, and their governments have no patience with any more unilateral U.S. stunts. This is the result of two years of a destructive policy aimed solely at punishing Iran and its people. The administration's open contempt for international law and the interests of its allies has cost the U.S. their cooperation.

Underscoring the absurdity of the Trump administration's arms embargo appeal were Pompeo's alarmist warnings that an end to the arms embargo would allow Iran to purchase advanced fighters that it would use to threaten Europe and India:

If you fail to act, Iran will be free to purchase Russian-made fighter jets that can strike up to a 3,000 kilometer radius, putting cities like Riyadh, New Delhi, Rome, and Warsaw in Iranian crosshairs.

This is a laughably unrealistic scenario. Even if Iran purchased advanced fighters, the last thing it would do is send them off on a suicide mission to bomb Italy or India. This shows how deeply irrational the Iran hawks' fearmongering is. Iran has already demonstrated an ability to launch precise attacks with drones and missiles in its immediate neighborhood, and it developed these capabilities while under the current embargo.

It has no need for expensive fighters, and it is not at all certain that their government would even be interested in acquiring them. Pompeo's presentation was a weak attempt to exaggerate the potential threat from a state that has very limited power projection, and he found no support because his serial fabrications about Iran have rendered everything he says to be worthless.

The same administration that wants to keep an arms embargo on Iran forever has no problem flooding the region with U.S.-made weapons and providing them to some of the worst governments in the world. It is these client states that are doing the most to destabilize other countries in the region right now. If the U.N. should be putting arms embargoes on any country, it should consider imposing them on Saudi Arabia and the UAE to limit their ability to wreak havoc on Yemen and Libya.

The Secretary of State called on the U.N. to reject "extortion diplomacy." The best way to reject extortion diplomacy would be for them to reject the administration's desperate attempt to use America's position at the U.N. to attack international law.

[Jun 28, 2020] SEC Issues Devastating Risk Alert on Private Equity Abuses; Effectively Admits Failure of Last 5+ Years of Enforcement by Yves Smith

Jun 26, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

We've embedded an SEC Risk Alert on private equity abuses at the end of this post. 1 What is remarkable about this document is that it contains a far longer and more detailed list of private abuses than the SEC flagged in its initial round of examinations of private equity firms in 2014 and 2015. Those examinations occurred in parallel with groundbreaking exposes by Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times and Mark Maremont in the Wall Street Journal. At least some of the SEC enforcement actions in that era look to have been triggered by the press effectively getting ahead of the SEC. And the SEC even admitted the misconduct was more common at the most prominent firms.

Yet despite front-page articles on private equity abuses, the SEC engaged in wet noodle lashings. Its pattern was to file only one major enforcement action over a particular abuse. Even then, the SEC went to some lengths to spread the filings out among the biggest firms. That meant it was pointedly engaging in selective enforcement, punishing only "poster child" examples and letting other firms who'd engaged in precisely the same abuses get off scot free.

The very fact of this Risk Alert is an admission of failure by the SEC. It indicates that the misconduct it highlighted five years ago continues and if anything is even more pervasive than in the 2014-2015 era. It also confirms that its oft-stated premise then, that the abuses it found then had somehow been made by firms with integrity that would of course clean up their acts, and that now-better-informed investors would also be more vigilant and would crack down on misconduct, was laughably false.

In particular, the second section of the Risk Alert, on Fees and Expenses (starting on page 4) describes how fund managers are charging inflated or unwarranted fees and expenses. In any other line of work, this would be called theft. Yet all the SEC is willing to do is publish a Risk Alert, rather than impose fines as well as require disgorgements?

The SEC's Abject Failure

In the Risk Alert below, the itemization of various forms of abuses, such as the many ways private equity firms parcel out interests in the businesses they buy among various funds and insiders to their, as opposed to investors' benefit, alone should give pause. And the lengthy discussion of these conflicts does suggest the SEC has learned something over the years. Experts who dealt with the agency in its early years of examining private equity firms found the examiners allergic to considering, much the less pursuing, complex abuses.

Undermining legislative intent of new supervisory authority . The SEC never embraced its new responsibilities to ride herd on private equity and hedge funds.

The SEC has long maintained a division between the retail investors and so-called "accredited investors" who by virtue of having higher net worths and investment portfolios, are treated by the agency as able to afford to lose more money. The justification is that richer means more sophisticated. But as anyone who is a manager for a top sports professional or entertainer, that is often not the case. And as we've seen, that goes double for public pension funds.

Starting with the era of Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt, the agency has taken the view that it is in the business of defending presumed-to-be-hapless retail investors and has left "accredited investor" and most of all, institutional investors, on their own. This was a policy decision by the agency when deregulation was venerated; there was no statutory basis for this change in priorities.

Congress tasked the SEC with supervising the fund management activities of private equity funds with over $150 million in assets under management. All of their investors are accredited investors. In other words, Congress mandated the SEC to make sure these firms complied with relevant laws as well as making adequate disclosures of what they were going to do with the money entrusted to them. Saying one thing in the investor contracts and doing another is a vastly worse breach than misrepresentations in marketing materials, yet the SEC acted as if slap-on-the-wrist-level enforcement was adequate.

We made fun when thirteen prominent public pension fund trustees wrote the SEC asking for them to force greater transparency of private equity fees and costs. The agency's position effectively was "You are grownups. No one is holding a gun to your head to make these investments. If you don't like the terms, walk away." They might have done better if they could have positioned their demand as consistent with the new Dodd Frank oversight requirements.

Actively covering up for bad conduct . In 2014, the SEC started working at giving malfeasance a free pass. Specifically, the SEC told private equity firms that they could continue their abuses if they 'fessed up in their annual disclosure filings, the so-called Form ADV. The term of art is "enhanced disclosure". Since when are contracts like confession, that if you admit to a breach, all is forgiven? Only in the topsy-turvy world of SEC enforcement.

And the coddling of crookedness continued. From a January post :

The agency is operating in such a cozy manner with private equity firms that as one investor described it:

It's like FBI sitting down with the Mafia to tell them each year, "Don't cross these lines because that's what we are focusing on."

Specifically, as we indicated, the SEC was giving advanced warning of the issues it would focus on in its upcoming exams, in order to give investment managers the time to get their stories together and purge files. And rather than view its periodic exams as being designed to make sure private equity firms comply with the law and their representations, the agency views them as "cooperative" exercises! Misconduct is assumed to be the result of misunderstanding and error, and not design.

It's pretty hard to see conduct like this, from the SEC's Risk Alert, as being an accident:

Advisers charged private fund clients for expenses that were not permitted by the relevant fund operating agreements, such as adviser-related expenses like salaries of adviser personnel, compliance, regulatory filings, and office expenses, thereby causing investors to overpay expenses

The staff observed private fund advisers that did not value client assets in accordance with their valuation processes or in accordance with disclosures to clients (such as that the assets would be valued in accordance with GAAP). In some cases, the staff observed that this failure to value a private fund's holdings in accordance with the disclosed valuation process led to overcharging management fees and carried interest because such fees were based on inappropriately overvalued holdings .

Advisers failed to apply or calculate management fee offsets in accordance with disclosures and therefore caused investors to overpay management fees.

We're highlighting this skimming simply because it is easier for laypeople to understand than some of the other types of cheating the SEC described. Even so, industry insiders and investors complained that the description of the misconduct in this Risk Alert was too general to give them enough of a roadmap to look for it at particular funds.

Ignoring how investors continue to be fleeced . The SEC's list includes every abuse it sanctioned or mentioned in the 2014 to 2015 period, including undisclosed termination of monitoring fees, failure to disclose that investors were paying for "senior advisers/operating partners," fraudulent charges, overcharging for services provided by affiliated companies, plus lots of types of bad-faith conduct on fund restructurings and allocations of fees and expenses on transactions allocated across funds.

The SEC assumed institutional investors would insist on better conduct once they were informed that they'd been had. In reality, not only did private equity investors fail to demand better, they accepted new fund agreements that described the sort of objectionable behavior they'd been engaging in. Remember, the big requirement in SEC land is disclosure. So if a fund manager says he might do Bad Things and then proceeds accordingly, the investor can't complain about not having been warned.

Moreover, the SEC's very long list of bad acts says the industry is continuing to misbehave even after it has defined deviancy down via more permissive limited partnership agreements!

Why This Risk Alert Now?

Keep in mind what a Risk Alert is and isn't. The best way to conceptualize it is as a press release from the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. It does not have any legal or regulatory force. Risk Alerts are not even considered to be SEC official views. They are strictly the product of OCIE staff.

On the first page of this Risk Alert, the OCIE blandly states that:

This Risk Alert is intended to assist private fund advisers in reviewing and enhancing their compliance programs, and also to provide investors with information concerning private fund adviser deficiencies.

Cutely, footnotes point out that not everyone examined got a deficiency letter (!!!), that the SEC has taken enforcement actions on "many" of the abuses described in the Risk Alert, yet "OCIE continues to observe some of these practices during examinations."

Several of our contacts who met in person with the SEC to discuss private equity grifting back in 2014-2015 pressed the agency to issue a Risk Alert as a way of underscoring the seriousness of the issues it was unearthing. The staffers demurred then.

In fairness, the SEC may have regarded a Risk Alert as having the potential to undermine its not-completed enforcement actions. But why not publish one afterwards, particularly since the intent then had clearly been to single out prominent examples of particular types of misconduct, rather than tackle it systematically? 2

So why is the OCIE stepping out a bit now? The most likely reason is as an effort to compensate for the lack of enforcement actions. Recall that all the OCIE can do is refer a case to the Enforcement Division; it's their call as to whether or not to take it up.

The SEC looks to have institutionalized the practice of borrowing lawyers from prominent firms. Mary Jo White of Debevoise brought Andrew Ceresney with her from Debeviose to be her head of enforcement. Both returned to Debevoise.

Current SEC chairman Jay Clayton came from Sullivan & Cromwell, bringing with him Steven Peikin as co-head of enforcement. And the Clayton SEC looks to have accomplished the impressive task of being even weaker on enforcement than Mary Jo White. Clayton made clear his focus was on "mom and pop" investors, meaning he chose to overlook much more consequential abuses by private equity firms and hedgies. The New York Times determined that the average amount of SEC fines against corporate perps fell markedly in 2018 compared to the final 20 months of the Obama Administration. The SEC since then levied $1 billion fine against the Woodbridge Group of Companies and its one-time owner for running a Ponzi scheme that fleeced over 8,400, so that would bring the average penalty up a bit. But it still confirms that Clayton is concerned about small fry, and not deeper but just as pickable pockets.

David Sirota argues that the OCIE was out to embarrass Clayton and sabotage what Sirota depicted as an SEC initiative to let retail investors invest in private equity. Sirota appears to have missed that that horse has left the barn and is in the next county, and the SEC had squat to do with it.

The overwhelming majority of retail funds is not in discretionary accounts but in retirement accounts, overwhelmingly 401(k)s. And it is the Department of Labor, which regulates ERISA plans, and not the SEC, that decides what those go and no go zones are. The DoL has already green-lighted allowing large swathes of 401(k) funds to include private equity holdings. From a post earlier this month :

Until now, regulations have kept private equity out of the retail market by prohibiting managers from accepting capital from individuals who lack significant net worth.

Private equity firms have succeeded in storming that barricade. The Department of Labor published a June 3 information letter that allows private equity funds, or more accurately funds of funds, to be included in certain 401(k) plan offerings, namely, target date funds and balanced funds. This is significant because despite the SEC regularly calling out bad practices with target date funds, they are the strategy used to manage the majority of 401(k) assets .

Moreover, even though Sirota pointed out that Clayton had spoken out in favor of allowing retail investors more access to private equity investments, the proposed regulation on the definition of accredited investors in fact not only does not lower income or net worth requirements (save for allowing spouses to combine their holdings) it in fact solicited comments on the idea of raising the limits. From a K&L Gates write up :

Previously, the Concept Release requested comment on whether the SEC should revise the current individual income ($200,000) and net worth ($1,000,000) thresholds. In the Proposing Release, the SEC further considered these thresholds, noting that the figures have not been adjusted since 1982. The SEC concluded that it does not believe modifications to the thresholds are necessary at this time, but it has requested comments on whether the final should instead make a one-time increase to the thresholds in the account for inflation, or whether the final rule should reflect a figure that is indexed to inflation on a going-forward basis.

It is not clear how many people would be picked up by the proposed change, which was being fleshed out, that of letting some presumed sophisticated but not rich individuals, like junior hedge fund professionals and holders of securities licenses, be treated as accredited investors. In other words, despite Clayton's talk about wanting ordinary investors to have more access to private equity funds, the agency's proposed rule change falls short of that.

Moreover, if the OCIE staff had wanted to undermine even the limited liberalization of the definition of accredited investor so as to stymie more private equity investment, the time to do so would have been immediately before or while the comments period was open. It ended March 16 .

The New York Times reported that Senate Republicans deemed Clayton's odds of confirmation as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York as remote even before the Trump fired Geoffrey Berman to clear a path for Clayton. So the idea that a technical release by the OCIE would derail Clayton's confirmation is a stretch.

So again, why now? One possibility is that the timing is purely a coincidence. For instance, the SEC staffers might have been waiting until Covid-19 news overload died down a bit so their work might get a hearing (and Covid-19 remote work complications may also have delayed its release).

The second possibility is that OCIE is indeed very frustrated with the enforcement chief Peikin's inaction on private equity. The fact that Peikin's boss and protector Clayton has made himself a lame duck meant a salvo against Peikin was now a much lower risk. If any readers have better insight into the internal workings of the SEC these days, please pipe up.

______

1 Formally, as you can see, this Risk Alert addresses both private equity and hedge fund misconduct, but on reading the details, the citing of both types of funds reflects the degree to which hedge funds have been engaging in the buying and selling of stakes in private companies. For instance, Chatham Asset Management, which has become notorious through its ownership of American Media, which in turn owns the National Enquirer, calls itself a hedge fund. Moreover, when the SEC started examining both private equity and hedge funds under new authority granted by Dodd Frank, it described the sort of misconduct described in this Risk Alert as coming out of exams of private equity firms, and its limited round of enforcement actions then were against brand name private equity firms like KKR, Blackstone, Apollo, and TPG. Thus for convenience as well as historical reasons, we refer only to private equity firms as perps.

2 Media stories at the time, including some of our posts, provided substantial evidence that particular abuses, such as undisclosed termination of monitoring fees and failure to disclose that "senior advisers" presented as general partner "team members" were in fact consultants being separately billed to fund investments, were common practices. Yet the SEC chose to lodge only marquee enforcement actions against one prominent firm for each abuse, as if token enforcement would serve as an adequate deterrent. The message was the reverse, that the overwhelming majority of the abuses were able to keep their ill-gotten gains and not even face public embarrassment.

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skippy , June 26, 2020 at 4:27 am

Peter Sellers I'll say now – ????

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TtZgs8k8dU

vlade , June 26, 2020 at 4:35 am

TBH, in the view of Calpers ignoring its advisors, I do have a little understanding of the SEC's point "you're grown ups" (the worse problem is that the advisors who leach themselves to the various accredited investors are often not worth the money.

On the same side though, fraud is a criminal offence, and it's SEC's duty to prosecute. And I believe that a lot of what PE engage in would happily fall under fraud, if SEC really wanted.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:43 am

Yes, the SEC conveniently claims a conflicted authority – 1. to regulate compliance but without an "enforcement authority", and 2. report egregious behavior to their "enforcement authority". So the SEC is less than a permissive nanny. Sort of like "access" to enforcement authority. Sounds like health care to me.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:06 pm

No, this is false. The SEC has an examination division and an enforcement division. The SEC can and does take enforcement actions that result in fines and disgorgements, see the $1 billion fine mentioned in the post. So the exam division can recommend enforcement to the enforcement division. That does not mean it will get done. Some enforcement actions originate from within the enforcement division, like insider trading cases, and the SEC long has had a tendency to prioritize insider trading cases.

The SEC cannot prosecute. It has to refer cases that it thinks are criminal to the DoJ and try to get them to saddle up.

Maritimer , June 26, 2020 at 5:04 am

Crimogenic: Producing or tending to produce crime or criminality. An additional factor is that, in the main, the criminals do not take their money and leave the gaming tables but pour it back in and the crime metastasizes.
AKA, Kleptocracy.

Thus in 2008 and thereafter the criminal damage required 2-3 trillion, now 7-10 trillion.

Any economic expert who does not recognize crime as the number one problem in the criminogenic US economy I disregard. Why read all that analysis when, at the end of the run, it all just boils down to bailing out the criminals and trying to reset the criminogenic system?

(Can I get my economics degree now?)

Adam Eran , June 26, 2020 at 1:33 pm

You might add that the threat of consequences for these crimes makes the criminals extremely motivated to elect officials who will not prosecute them (e.g. Obama). They're not running for office, they're avoiding incarceration.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:17 am

The SEC has been captured for years now. It was not that long ago that SEC Examination chief Andrew Bowden made a grovelling speech to these players and even asked them to give his son a job which was so wrong-

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/regulatory-capture-captured-on-video-190033/

But there is no point in reforming the SEC as it was the politicians, at the beck and call of these players, that de-fanged the SEC – and it was a bipartisan effort! So it becomes a chicken-or-the-egg problem in the matter of reform. Who do you reform first?

Can't leave this comment without mentioning something about a private equity company. One of the two major internal airlines in Oz went broke due to the virus and a private equity buyer has been found to buy it. A union rep said that they will be good for jobs and that they are a good company. Their name? Bain Capital!

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 5:44 am

We broke the story about Andrew Bowden! Give credit where credit is due!!!! Even though Taibbi points to us in his first line, linking to Rolling Stone says to those who don't bother clicking through that it was their story.

Plus we transcribed his fawning remarks.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/secs-andrew-bowden-regulator-sale.html

And he resigned three weeks later.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:56 am

Of course I remember that story. I was going to mention it but thought to let people see it in virtually the opening line of that story where he gives you credit. More of a jolt of recognition seeing it rather than being told about it first.

Jesper , June 26, 2020 at 6:36 am

Of the three branches of government which ones are not captured by big business? If two out of three were to captured then does it matter what the third does?

Is the executive working for the common good or for the interests of big business?
Is the legislature working for the common good or for the interests of big business?
Is the judiciary working for the common good or for the interests of big business?

In my opinion too much power has been centralised, too much of the productivity gains of the past 40 years have been monetised and therefore made possible to hoard and centralise.

SEC should (in my opinion) try to enforce more but without more support then I do not believe (it is my opinion, nothing more and nothing less) that they can accomplish much.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:57 am

The SEC is a mysterious agency which (?) must fall under the jurisdiction of the Treasury because it is a monetary regulatory agency in the business of regulating securities and exchanges. But it has no authority to do much of anything. The Treasury itself falls under the executive administration but as we have recently seen, Mnuchin himself managed to get a nice skim for his banking pals from the money Congress legislated. That's because Congress doesn't know how to effectuate a damn thing – they legislate stuff that morphs before our very eyes and goes to the grifters without a hitch. So why don't we demand that consumer protection be made into hard law with no wiggle room; that since investing is complex in this world of embedded funds and glossy prospectuses, we the consumer should not have to wade through all the nonsense to make decisions – that everything be on the table. And if PE can't manage to do that and still steal its billions then PE should be declared to be flat-out illegal.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm

Please stop spreading disinformation. This is the second time on this post.

The SEC has nada to do with the Treasury. It is an independent regulatory agency.

It however is the only financial regulator that does not keep what it kills (its own fees and fines) but is instead subject to Congressional appropriations. Andrew Levitt, for instance, complained bitterly that Joe Lieberman would regularly threaten to cut the SEC's budget for allegedly being too aggressive about enforcement. Lieberman was the Senator from Hedgistan.

Edward , June 26, 2020 at 7:16 am

More banana republic level grift. What happens when investors figure out they can't believe anything they are told?

RJMc, MD , June 26, 2020 at 8:43 am

It should be noted that out here in the countryside of northern Michigan that embezzlement (a winter sport here while the men are out ice fishing), theft and fraud are still considered punishable felonies. Perhaps that is simply a quaint holdover from a bygone time. Dudley set the tone for the C of C with his Green Book on bank deregulation. One of the subsequent heads of C of C was reported as seeing his position as "being the spiritual resource for banks". If bank regulation is treated in a farcical fashion why should be the SEC be any different?

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 12:08 pm

I was shocked to just now learn that ERISA/the Dept of Labor is in regulatory control of allowing pension funds to buy PE fund of funds and "balanced PE funds". What VERBIAGE. Are "PE Fund of Balanced Funds" an actual category? And what distinguishes them from good old straightforward Index Funds? And also too – what is happening before our very glazed-over eyes is that PE is high grading not just the stock market but the US Treasury itself. Ordinary investors should be buying US Treasuries directly and retirement funds should too. It will be a big bite but if it knocks PE out of business it would be worth it. PE is in the business of cooking its books, ravaging struggling corporations, and boldly privatizing the goddamned Treasury. WTF?

Kouros , June 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

I want to bring this to Yves' attention: the recent SCOTUS decision on Thole v. U.S. Bank that opens the doors wide for corporate America to steal with impunity from the pension plans: https://www.unz.com/estriker/corrupt-supreme-court-gives-green-light-to-corporations-to-steal-from-pensioners/

Glen , June 26, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Can we come up with a better descriptor for "private equity"?

I suggest "billionaire looters".

Olivier , June 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm

What about the wanton destruction of the purchased companies? If this solely about the harm done to the poor investors? If so, that is seriously wrong.

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm

If, you know, the neoliberal "because markets" is the ruling paradigm then of course there is no harm done. The questions then become: is "because markets" a sensible paradigm? What is it a sensible paradigm of? Is "because markets" even sensible for the long term?

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:19 pm

an aside: farewell, Olympus camera. A sad day. Farewell, OM-1 and OM-2. Film photography is really not replicated by digital photography but the larger market has gone to digital. Speed and cost vs quality. Because markets. Now the vulture swoop.

https://www.theregister.com/2020/06/26/olympus_closes_cameras/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/marksparrow/2020/06/25/olympus-exits-the-camera-market-after-three-years-without-a-profit/#1fdef9db5fc6

Stan Sexton , June 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Where is the SEC when Bain Capital (Romney) wipes out Toys-R-Us and Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum wipes out Payless Shoes. They gain control of the companies, pile on massive debt and take the proceeds of the loan, and they know the company cannot service the loan and a BK is around the corner. Thousands lose their jobs. And this is legal? And we also lost Glass-Steagal and legalized stock buy-backs.The Elite are screwing the people. It's Socialism for the Rich, the Politicians and Govt Employees and Feudalism for the rest of us.

[Jun 23, 2020] Identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ( soft neoliberals ) to counter the defection of trade union members from the party

Highly recommended!
divide and conquer 1. To gain or maintain power by generating tension among others, especially those less powerful, so that they cannot unite in opposition.
Notable quotes:
"... In its most general form, identity politics involves (i) a claim that a particular group is not being treated fairly and (ii) a claim that members of that group should place political priority on the demand for fairer treatment. But "fairer" can mean lots of different things. I'm trying to think about this using contrasts between the set of terms in the post title. A lot of this is unoriginal, but I'm hoping I can say something new. ..."
"... The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy. ..."
"... Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity. ..."
"... If we assume that identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") many things became much more clear. Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represents a mechanism to compensate for the loss of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump. ..."
Dec 28, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 12.27.19 at 10:21 pm

John,

I've been thinking about the various versions of and critiques of identity politics that are around at the moment. In its most general form, identity politics involves (i) a claim that a particular group is not being treated fairly and (ii) a claim that members of that group should place political priority on the demand for fairer treatment. But "fairer" can mean lots of different things. I'm trying to think about this using contrasts between the set of terms in the post title. A lot of this is unoriginal, but I'm hoping I can say something new.

You missed one important line of critique -- identity politics as a dirty political strategy of soft neoliberals.

See discussion of this issue by Professor Ganesh Sitaraman in his recent article (based on his excellent book The Great Democracy ) https://newrepublic.com/article/155970/collapse-neoliberalism

To be sure, race, gender, culture, and other aspects of social life have always been important to politics. But neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. Self-government requires uniting through our commonalities and aspiring to achieve a shared future.

When individuals fall back onto clans, tribes, and us-versus-them identities, the political community gets fragmented. It becomes harder for people to see each other as part of that same shared future.

Demagogues [more correctly neoliberals -- likbez] rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society.

The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy.

Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity.

Of course, the result is to leave in place political and economic structures that harm the very groups that inclusionary neoliberals claim to support. The foreign policy adventures of the neoconservatives and liberal internationalists haven't fared much better than economic policy or cultural politics. The U.S. and its coalition partners have been bogged down in the war in Afghanistan for 18 years and counting. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is a liberal democracy, nor did the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq lead to a domino effect that swept the Middle East and reformed its governments for the better. Instead, power in Iraq has shifted from American occupiers to sectarian militias, to the Iraqi government, to Islamic State terrorists, and back to the Iraqi government -- and more than 100,000 Iraqis are dead.

Or take the liberal internationalist 2011 intervention in Libya. The result was not a peaceful transition to stable democracy but instead civil war and instability, with thousands dead as the country splintered and portions were overrun by terrorist groups. On the grounds of democracy promotion, it is hard to say these interventions were a success. And for those motivated to expand human rights around the world, it is hard to justify these wars as humanitarian victories -- on the civilian death count alone.

Indeed, the central anchoring assumptions of the American foreign policy establishment have been proven wrong. Foreign policymakers largely assumed that all good things would go together -- democracy, markets, and human rights -- and so they thought opening China to trade would inexorably lead to it becoming a liberal democracy. They were wrong. They thought Russia would become liberal through swift democratization and privatization. They were wrong.

They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. And to be clear, Donald Trump had nothing to do with them. All of these failures were evident prior to the 2016 election.

If we assume that identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") many things became much more clear. Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represents a mechanism to compensate for the loss of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump.

Initially Clinton calculation was that trade union voters has nowhere to go anyways, and it was correct for first decade or so of his betrayal. But gradually trade union members and lower middle class started to leave Dems in droves (Demexit, compare with Brexit) and that where identity politics was invented to compensate for this loss.

So in addition to issues that you mention we also need to view the role of identity politics as the political strategy of the "soft neoliberals " directed at discrediting and the suppression of nationalism.

The resurgence of nationalism is the inevitable byproduct of the dominance of neoliberalism, resurgence which I think is capable to bury neoliberalism as it lost popular support (which now is limited to financial oligarchy and high income professional groups, such as we can find in corporate and military brass, (shrinking) IT sector, upper strata of academy, upper strata of medical professionals, etc)

That means that the structure of the current system isn't just flawed which imply that most problems are relatively minor and can be fixed by making some tweaks. It is unfixable, because the "Identity wars" reflect a deep moral contradictions within neoliberal ideology. And they can't be solved within this framework.

[Jun 21, 2020] Paul R. Pillar who pointed out that U.S. sanctions are frequently peddled as a peaceful alternative to war fit the definition of 'crimes against peace'.

Highly recommended!
Jun 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Christian J. Chuba , Jun 21 2020 14:18 utc | 78

Re: the Nuremberg trials , I became fascinated by the writings of Paul R. Pillar who pointed out that U.S. sanctions are frequently peddled as a peaceful alternative to war fit the definition of 'crimes against peace' . This is when one country sets up an environment for war against another country. I'll grant you that this is vague but if this is applicable at all how is this not an accurate description of what we are doing against Iran and Venezuela?

In both cases, we are imposing a full trade embargo (not sanctions) on basic civilian necessities and infrastructures and threatening the use of military force. As for Iran, the sustained and unfair demonization of Iranians is preparing the U.S. public to accept a ruthless bombing campaign against them as long overdue. We are already attacking the civilian population of their allies in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.

How Ironic that the country that boasts that it won WW2 is now guilty of the very crimes that it condemned publicly in court.

[May 25, 2020] Gangster politics at the age of Trump: Lack of principle itself becomes a principle.

May 25, 2020 | logosjournal.com

Originally from: Gangster Politics Logos Journal by by Stephen Eric Bronner

Gangster politicians like to think that they are slick. They talk slang and curse a lot, grab a girl's ass (or worse), insist that they never read a book, thumb their noses at intellectual elites, boast about their high IQs, and proclaim their "street smarts." They also view themselves both as victims of their critics' malice and "great men" alone capable of curing the nation's ills.

They make their base feel the same: they are despised and yet the real Americans! Their belief in the boss is unwavering. Only he can make America great again.

Those who oppose his policies are traitors and the threats they pose are serious -- and, if they are not serious, then they must be made serious. History teaches what might become necessary in order to teach them a lesson. The Reichstag Fire of 1933 and the (staged) assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934 were the dramatic events that led Hitler and Stalin to justify attacks on enemies, renegades, and supposed traitors to the state. Gangster politicians under internal pressure pray for a crisis, or what Trump once forecast as a "major event," in order to rally the troops and clean house.

Gangster politics requires no ideology. Lack of principle itself becomes a principle.

The great man must do what must be done: if that means lying, reneging on deals, shifting gears, rejecting transparency, and whatever else, then so be it. That he can employ the double standard is a given.

Big talk takes the place of diplomacy and, if the bluster doesn't work then America alone -- or, better, the boss alone -- can rely on "fire and fury" whenever and wherever he likes.

Traditionalists employed jingoistic rhetoric and wrapped themselves in the flag. The gangster politician talks like a schoolyard bully and salutes himself.

Gangster politicians of times past had subordinates swear an oath of loyalty not to the state but to them. Yesterday's "America! Love it or leave it!" has today turned into: "Trump! Love him -- or shut up!"

[May 25, 2020] Gangster Politics by Stephen Eric Bronner

Notable quotes:
"... Contemporary films and television shows constantly depict the CIA, corrupt politicians and greedy corporate interests as interwoven. But these usually appear as either the work of rogue individuals (who must be brought into line) or an always vague and unalterable "system" that demands utter cynicism as the only appropriate response. ..."
May 25, 2020 | logosjournal.com

In The Communist Manifesto , Marx and Engels referred to the state as "the executive committee of the ruling class." Reflecting the collective capitalist interest in maintaining its accumulation process, capable of forging compromises among competing sectors of its own and other classes, this committee was also meant to enforce legal norms, contracts, and other rules of the game.

If necessary, indeed, it would even subordinate individual capitalist interests to the collective interests of the class. The executive committee might foster imperialist ambitions and declare war. But it might also call for redistributive legislation to foster demand even though no individual capitalist would want to pay higher taxes to cover the cost. Recalcitrant elements of the ruling class and protestors from below require punishment. Fascist states easily get carried away in that regard. Banana republics usually exhibit bureaucratic gangster tendencies. In a capitalist democracy, however, things are supposedly different: its executive committee should jail Al Capone and marginalize corruption. The lines between legal and illegal business transactions are blurring and the term "political mafia" is taking on a whole new meaning. [1]

Gangster politics has little in common with the interests of petty criminals, white collar crooks, 'Crips and 'Bloods, and the like. Vast sums are at stake: so, for example, roughly 82.8% of benefits from the 2017 tax bill are being funneled into the portfolios of the top 1%, [2] and the corporate tax rate is being dropped from 35% to 21%. The boss knows where his bread is buttered. That the godfather should get his cut goes without saying: Trump's family will make upwards of "tens of millions of dollars" from his tax legislation. [3] And with the "ca-ching!" (that sweet sound of the cash register) comes the "bling" (the payoffs, the hush-money, and the gifts) along with the "glitz" of the porno stars, the third-rate actresses, the models, and the rest.

Gangster politics hovers between the authoritarian and the democratic. The boss and his posse receive their perks for a reason. Gangster politics immunizes capitalist society from class contradictions that have become too acute or demands from below that have grown too onerous. Its representatives are not exactly fascists. They don't rely on paramilitary forces, concentration camps, official censorship, or explicit ideals of a racially pure society. Sleaze is the ethos of gangster politics. Its style and tone insinuate themselves into existing institutions such as the town meeting, the mass rally, media, electoral debates, and the use of legislative tricks, and legal minutiae. Gangster politicians know how to "game" the system. Their populist rhetoric is window dressing. The old "bicycle mentality" of the petty bourgeoisie holds sway, namely, push up and kick down.

Gangsters have long been identified with capitalists, cops, and state officials. Balzac noted that every great fortune hides a great crime. Upton Sinclair and Frank Norris made the connection as did Ibsen. But, perhaps most notoriously, Bert Brecht saw the gangster ethos uniting capitalists, imperialists, and militarists in a host of plays beginning with The Three Penny Opera . Contemporary films and television shows constantly depict the CIA, corrupt politicians and greedy corporate interests as interwoven. But these usually appear as either the work of rogue individuals (who must be brought into line) or an always vague and unalterable "system" that demands utter cynicism as the only appropriate response.

Gangster politics is not a structured institutional formation, as often argued, [4] but rather a semi-legal adaptation to legal forms of governance. It arises when the gangster's clients sense danger. Memories still linger concerning the economic crisis of 2008. [5] Banks are still over-extending unfavorable loans, stocks have been erratic, insider trading is the rule of the day and the "average guy" is panicking as capital becomes centralized in ever fewer hands. Production requires an ever smaller yet more educated working class; consumption is inordinately skewed to the wealthy; and the class question increasingly turns on how best to disempower working people, those living below the poverty line, women, citizens of color, and immigrants

Enforcing gerrymandering, curtailing voting rights, privatizing the prison system, access peddling, and accruing unlimited donations for electoral campaigns are effective tactics that border on the illegal. Right-wing control over an increasingly centralized media helps deflect criticisms and divide the disenfranchised and exploited. The audience has been primed. The boss' mass base detests his critics. Environmentalists, immigrants, people of color, uppity women, decadent gays and the transgendered infuriate the "good citizens" of America clinging to outworn traditions in small towns as well as evangelicals and retrograde (white) sectors of the industrial working class. They despair over loss of jobs, government "waste" and "welfare chiselers," moral decline, and (above all) the loss of their cultural privileges. They look back to a time when "men were men," "America was great!" and "happy days" followed one another non-stop.

Elites nod approvingly, though they have different priorities: de-regulation, lower taxes, fewer welfare policies, and cuts in the "costs of doing business." Oligarchic tendencies are built into capitalism and, as they expand, their exploitative impact on workers and the urban poor become more intense. That is where gangster politics enters the mainstream. Corporate elites require protection from progressive forces. [6] Their leaders must often choose between authoritarianism with profits as against democracy with costs. Thy always assume that they can control their enforcer. Once in office, however, the parvenu begins exercising power in his own interest. Donald Trump turned on mainstream Republicans, who pandered to the Tea Party early in the Obama presidency, just as Hitler turned on his former patron, Fritz von Papen, and his "cabinet of the barons" in 1933. It was the same with General Pinochet who was installed by the traditional conservative Eduard Frei following the fall of Salvador Allende's democratic regime in Chile in 1973. Other examples are available.

Gangster politics has its own logic. Traditionalists like to believe that the conflict is between "them and us." For the political gangster, however, the struggle is between "them and me." The only fixed rule is -- don't cross the boss! And, if only for this reason, he chooses to be feared rather than loved. He taunts his subordinates, publicly humiliates them, throws them under the bus, and perhaps even fires them a few days before their retirement. Cabinet officials and agency directors require no expertise or security clearance, [7] all that counts is loyalty to the boss. But, then, loyalty is a one-way street. Internal security advisers, press secretaries, cabinet secretaries, chiefs of staff, assistants, agency directors, White House attorneys, and deputies of all stripes come and go. Trump's administration has already had a turnover rate of 34%, more than triple that of the Obama presidency. [8] Confusion and chaos proliferate. There is a sense in which the goal of gangster politics is what Franz Neumann termed "the stateless state." It serves a concrete purpose: everyone knows who is in charge of everything.

Gangster politicians like to think that they are slick. They talk slang and curse a lot, grab a girl's ass (or worse), insist that they never read a book, thumb their noses at intellectual elites, boast about their high IQs, and proclaim their "street smarts." They also view themselves both as victims of their critics' malice and "great men" alone capable of curing the nation's ills. They make their base feel the same: they are despised and yet the real Americans! Their belief in the boss is unwavering. Only he can make America great again. Those who oppose his policies are traitors and the threats they pose are serious -- and, if they are not serious, then they must be made serious. History teaches what might become necessary in order to teach them a lesson. The Reichstag Fire of 1933 and the (staged) assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934 were the dramatic events that led Hitler and Stalin to justify attacks on enemies, renegades, and supposed traitors to the state. Gangster politicians under internal pressure pray for a crisis, or what Trump once forecast as a "major event," in order to rally the troops and clean house.

Gangster politics requires no ideology. Lack of principle itself becomes a principle.

The great man must do what must be done: if that means lying, reneging on deals, shifting gears, rejecting transparency, and whatever else, then so be it. That he can employ the double standard is a given. Big talk takes the place of diplomacy and, if the bluster doesn't work then America alone – or, better, the boss alone – can rely on "fire and fury" whenever and wherever he likes. Traditionalists employed jingoistic rhetoric and wrapped themselves in the flag. The gangster politician talks like a schoolyard bully and salutes himself. Gangster politicians of times past had subordinates swear an oath of loyalty not to the state but to them. Yesterday's "America! Love it or leave it!" has today turned into: "Trump! Love him –or shut up!"

... ,,, ,,

References

[1] Herbert Marcuse, 1974 Paris Lectures at Vincennes University eds. Peter-Erwin Jansen and Charles Reitz (Published by the Marcuse Archives).

[2] Dylan Matthews, "The Republican tax bill got worse: now the top 1% gets 83% of the gains,"VOX, December 18, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/18/16791174/republican-tax-bill-congress-conference-tax-policy-center

[3] Louis Jacobson, "How much does the Trump family have to gain from GOP tax bills?"PolitiFact, November 27, 2017,http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/nov/27/lloyd-doggett/how-much-does-trump-family-have-gain-gop-tax-bills/

[4] The term "gangster state" has been used often, and there are a number of different interpretations of the phenomenon ie. Katherine Hirschfeld, Gangster States: Organized Crime, Kleptocracy and Political Collapse (New York: Palgrave, 2015); Charles Tilly, "State Formation as Organized Crime" in eds. Peter Evans et. al (Bringing the State Back In (New York: Cambridge University press, 1985); Michael Hirsh, "Gangster States" in http://www.newsweek.com/gangster-state-166356Paul Craig Roberts, "Gangster State America: Where is America's Democracy?" https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/05/06/gangster-state-america-paul-craig-roberts-2/;

[5] Gretchen Morgenstern and Joshua Rosner, Reckles$ Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon (New York: Henry Holt, 2011).

[6] Note the discussion in Stephen Eric Bronner, The Bitter Taste of Hope: Ideals, Ideologies and Interests in the Age of Obama (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2017), 1ff.

[7] Max Greenwood, "At least 30 White House officials, Trump appointees lack full clearances: report," The Hill, February 9, 2018http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/373220-at-least-30-white-house-officials-trump-appointees-lack-full#.Wn7-uVrZvb8.facebook

[8] Jeremy Berke, "REX TILLERSON IS OUT -- here are all the casualties of the Trump administration so far," Business Insider, March 13, 2018 http://www.businessinsider.com/who-has-trump-fired-so-far-james-comey-sean-spicer-michael-flynn-2017-7/#rob-porter-1 ; New York Times (February 13, 2018).

[9] Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish, "$2 Billion Worth of Free Media for Donald Trump," New York Times , March 15, 2016https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-mammoth-advantage-in-free-media.html


Stephen Eric Bronner is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of Global Relations for the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University. His most recent work is
The Bitter Taste of Hope: Ideals, Ideologies and Interests in the Age of Obama.

[May 15, 2020] Selling political influence through family members is the legal form of corruption.

May 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Coolie eddie parolini 8 hours ago

Selling political influence through family members is THE legal form of corruption. Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz' BHR Capital, with no experience in China or any track record of success, quickly raised up to $1.5 billion from the Bank of China shortly after Hunter Biden's trip aboard Air Force 2 to China with his father. While this isn't a case of outsourcing U.S. manufacturing, it is a present-day reminder of how the political and economic elites in both China and the U.S. collude together for their own financial gains.
eddie parolini The Coolie 7 hours ago • edited
Sure but then, why ignore the much more recent examples like the Trump girl being granted trademarks by China after her father became President? After.

My point is that the author only detracts from an somewhat informative article by showing his partisan biases.

The idea that one political party in the U.S. has been less deferential to China than the other is laughable. When there is a buck to be made, that buck will be made.

[May 14, 2020] Burr Resigns As Head Of Intel Committee Over 'Insider Trading' Probe

May 14, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Update (1215ET): Mitch McConnell just confirmed that Burr will step down from his position as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

It's not exactly a shock...

* * *

Although the public outrage over stock trades made by GOP Senators during the early days of the US coronavirus outbreak appears to have subsided, the DoJ's investigation into the 'controversial' stock trades has continued apace. And in the latest update, the LA Times revealed late Wednesday that FBI agents had seized the cellphone of Sen. Richard Burr during the course of the investigation.

Burr, who is best known to Americans in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Intel Committee, reportedly turned over his phone to agents after they executed a search warrant on his home in the Washington area.

The seizure is a sign of a "significant escalation" in the investigation, the paper said.

The seizure represents a significant escalation in the investigation into whether Burr violated a law preventing members of Congress from trading on insider information they have gleaned from their official work.

To obtain a search warrant, federal agents and prosecutors must persuade a judge they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The law enforcement official said the Justice Department is examining Burr's communications with his broker.

Such a warrant being served on a sitting U.S. senator would require approval from the highest ranks of the Justice Department and is a step that would not be taken lightly. Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.

A second law enforcement official said FBI agents served a warrant in recent days on Apple to obtain information from Burr's iCloud account and said agents used data obtained from the California-based company as part of the evidence used to obtain the warrant for the senator's phone.

Notably, the leak - which reads like something the NYT or WaPo would ordinarily publish - follows a federal judge's decision to try and stop the DoJ from dismissing the charges against former Trump NSA Michael Flynn.

Was this 'leak' really intended to show the public that the DoJ remains non-partisan in the Trump era? We wouldn't be surprised. But the fact remains: If these senators broke the law, they will almost certainly face charges.

Of course, Burr wasn't the only lawmaker to get caught up in the scandal:

Others who have come under fire for stock sales include Rep Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as well as - what's this? - powerful California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

[May 10, 2020] As many noted, corruption in USA is in some sense smaller, because a lot of corrupted activities are legalized

May 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Piotr Berman , May 9 2020 23:20 utc | 37

"The level of corruption inherent in the current setup (first adopted in Soviet NEP -- New Economic Policy) is tremendous, as the party has absolute political power and controls the major economic and financial areas while the entrepreneurs try to bribe state officials to get the leverage and/or enrich themselves at the state expense or bypass the bureaucratic limitations/inefficiencies imposed by the state, or offload some costs. So mafia style relationship between party officials and entrepreneurs is not an aberration, it is a norm. And periodic "purges" of corrupt Party officials do not solve the problem. Ecological problems in China are just one side effect of this."

As many noted, corruption in USA is in some sense smaller, because a lot of corrupted activities are legalized. Sorry for pasting a large quote from NYT

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Ms. Kelly, an aide to Mr. Christie, wrote in an email to officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, called the communication "an admirably concise email."

She went on to write that "the evidence the jury heard no doubt shows wrongdoing -- deception, corruption, abuse of power."

"But the federal fraud statutes at issue do not criminalize all such conduct," she wrote. "Under settled precedent, the officials could violate those laws only if an object of their dishonesty was to obtain the Port Authority's money or property."

And, she wrote, "the realignment of the toll lanes was an exercise of regulatory power -- something this court has already held fails to meet the statutes' property requirement."

It is not the first time that the justices have shown their skepticism of public corruption cases. In 2016, it unanimously overturned the conviction of Bob McDonnell, a former governor of Virginia who was accused of accepting luxury products, loans and vacations from a business executive in return for arranging meetings and urging underlings to consider the executive's requests.
--------------------
A quarter of American GDP goes for defense and health care. Both areas are a veritable swamp of greed, rapacious overpricing, peddling unneeded products etc. And it is not like the remaining 75% is an oasis of honesty. An average terminal cancer patient has a better percentage of healthy cells.

[May 07, 2020] Bolton and the culture of corruption and intimidation

May 07, 2020 | www.unz.com

Sam 12123 , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 8:39 pm GMT

The OPCW is claimed to be an independent agency but we know that it suppressed the results of its own engineers when it reported that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged chemical attack in Douma. The former head of the agency has publicly asserted that when John Bolton demanded that he step down, he added, "We know where your children live." The US has a history of corruption and intimidation. Any investigation would result in finding China responsible just as Russia was found to be responsible for the airliner that was shot down over Ukraine.

[Apr 15, 2020] Elizabeth Warren Endorses Biden

Apr 15, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Her endorsement of Biden comes one day after former President Obama finally backed the former VP after months of remaining in the shadows.

Things sure do change fast in Washington...

Just six weeks ago, Elizabeth Warren attacked Joe Biden as a "Washington insider" backed by "Washington insiders."

"Nominating a man who says we do not need any fundamental change in this country will not meet this moment," she said. pic.twitter.com/eXsByQUKIQ

-- Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) April 15, 2020

[Apr 15, 2020] American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world

Apr 15, 2020 | www.theatlantic.com

exquirentibus veritatem 4 hours ago

"American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world. All of the stolen money, all of those evaded tax dollars sunk into Central Park penthouses and Nevada shell companies, might otherwise fund health care and infrastructure. (A report from the anti-poverty group One has argued that 3.6 million deaths each year can be attributed to this sort of resource siphoning.)

Thievery tramples the possibilities of workable markets and credible democracy. It fuels suspicions that the whole idea of liberal capitalism is a hypocritical sham: While the world is plundered, self-righteous Americans get rich off their complicity with the crooks.

The Founders were concerned that venality would become standard procedure, and it has. Long before suspicion mounted about the loyalties of Donald Trump, large swaths of the American elite -- lawyers, lobbyists, real-estate brokers, politicians in state capitals who enabled the creation of shell companies -- had already proved themselves to be reliable servants of a rapacious global plutocracy.

"Richard Palmer was right: The looting elites of the former Soviet Union were far from rogue profiteers. They augured a kleptocratic habit that would soon become widespread.

One bitter truth about the Russia scandal is that by the time Vladimir Putin attempted to influence the shape of our country, it was already bending in the direction of his."

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/03/how-kleptocracy-came-to-america/580471/

[Apr 10, 2020] US Department of Defense give 1 million masks to IDF for coronavirus use

From comments: "Of course, Israel is the Pentagons biggest ally in keeping the military budget up. "
Apr 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Brendan , Apr 8 2020 8:49 utc | 5
April 7: Hospitals say feds are seizing masks and other coronavirus supplies without a word

bigger

April 8: US Department of Defense give 1 million masks to IDF for coronavirus use


bigger

Posted by b on April 8, 2020 at 7:43 UTC | Permalink

The Jpost article that b links to says that a million masks from China (donated by the US Department of Defense) arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. But Israel should have already had two million masks if this report from last weekend is correct:
The shipment will include two million masks, landing in Israel on Monday morning,
https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-april-4-2020/

So that appears to be three million masks from China, plus those seized from American hospitals. Or are they fiddling the figures and pretending that those seized masks were legally purchased in China?


Brendan , Apr 8 2020 9:53 utc | 8

It appears that Mossad and others have recently acquired about two surgical masks per Israeli:

"5 April 2020,
(...)Last week, the Health Ministry said that security services and government ministries had managed to obtain 27 ventilators and a hoard of other medical equipment from abroad.

Hebrew media reported that the Mossad intelligence service, which has been tasked with securing medical equipment from abroad from unspecified countries amid worldwide shortages, helped obtain 25,000 N95 respiratory masks , 20,000 virus test kits, 10 million surgical masks , and 700 overalls for ambulance workers who usually carry out the initial testing for the virus.

It was the third such shipment by the Mossad over the past few weeks, aimed at addressing shortages in Israel."
https://www.timesofisrael.com/with-11-planes-israel-airlifts-huge-quantities-of-medical-equipment-from-china/

Mao , Apr 8 2020 9:58 utc | 9
Pompeo: "America remains the world's leading light of humanitarian goodness."

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/1247559857206628354

Emily , Apr 8 2020 10:12 utc | 11
One million masks for the IDF.
Eat your heart out US Theodore Roosevelt and Guam.
US sailors right at the bottom of the Pentagon's priorities, thats for sure.
American military?.
Have one duty - die as required for Israel.
Including death by coronavirus by looks of things.....
More fool them.
Richard Steven Hack , Apr 8 2020 10:13 utc | 12
Bloody hell. The Pentagon procures a million masks from China, then gives them to Israel - when US doctors are running low in almost every city - not to mention that the military itself has soaring coronavirus cases it can't handle.

You gotta know some rich Jewish corporate billionaire was behind that crap and Kushner was just the conduit to get Trump to agree to it - probably in exchange for a big donation to Trump's campaign.

If there was ever a country that deserved to be on the end of a US bombing campaign - it's Israel - a racist, fanatical. colonialist, fascist, illegal terrorist state. Zionists - the biggest scumbags on the planet. But instead the US bombs everyone else Israel doesn't like.

But cheer up. Israel is a doomed nation. There is no way they can continue their path forever, historically speaking. I suspect they won't exist within another fifty years. They'll either be annihilated by their own nuclear weapons, or transformed into a bi-national state that is no longer primarily Jewish. And I don't particularly care which.

Mao , Apr 8 2020 12:41 utc | 17
The U.S. government's efforts to clean up Cold War-era waste from nuclear research and bomb making at federal sites around the country has lumbered along for decades, often at a pace that watchdogs and other critics say threatens public health and the environment.

Now, fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic is resulting in more challenges as the nation's only underground repository for nuclear waste finished ramping down operations Wednesday to keep workers safe.

Over more than 20 years, tons of waste have been stashed deep in the salt caverns that make up the southern New Mexico site. Until recently, several shipments a week of special boxes and barrels packed with lab coats, rubber gloves, tools and debris contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements were being trucked to the remote facility from South Carolina, Idaho and other spots.

That's all but grinding to a halt.

Shipments to the desert outpost will be limited for the foreseeable future while work at the country's national laboratories and defense sites shift to only those operations considered "mission critical."

Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant warned state regulators in a letter Tuesday that more time would be needed for inspections and audits and that work would be curtailed or shifts would be staggered to ensure workers keep their distance from one another.

https://apnews.com/36eec1b19f113b62fa94f2f0388e240d

Ghost Ship , Apr 8 2020 12:41 utc | 18
... ... ...

BTW, the Al Quds Post (aka Jerusalem Post to Zionists) has changed the headline on that article to "Israel brings 1 million masks from China for IDF soldiers" Looks like the "New York Purchasing and Logistics Division" is part of the Israeli Ministry Of War All The Time. So the original was a nice story but fake news. Since there was no correction attached to the new version, it could be that Washington/Tel Aviv reckoned that this was a step to far even for Trump and the new version is the fake news.

Willy2 , Apr 8 2020 12:45 utc | 20
- This news simply confirms again that the US, under Trump, has become more corrupt. But this is a development that already started years, decades ago before Trump became president.
William Gruff , Apr 8 2020 13:00 utc | 22
Willy2 @20

I think the possibility should be considered that Trump just made preexisting corruption more visible rather than adding significantly to it. There are elaborate protocols and circuitous speech that professional politicians learn to use to obfuscate the corruption and make their own participation in that corruption seem not only acceptable but necessary or even in the public interest. Trump is either ignorant of these protocols or he just doesn't care.

vk , Apr 8 2020 13:26 utc | 24
This is not surprising at all. Israel's economy is completely dependent on American constant aid:

All is not what it seems: Israeli economy's relative success based on massive direct aid from the US and donations from the Jewish diaspora

Even with all this help (of which most go to the military sector), the Isreali economy can barely keep itself afloat:

[...] inequality of income and wealth is huge in Israel, the second worst in the 36 nation OECD group. The relative poverty rate for Haredim and Arabs (25% of the population) is near 50%, and even for other Israelis, it is higher than the OECD average. The gap in median wage levels from skilled to unskilled; from Haredim/Arabs to others is huge - and yet the former will constitute 50% of the population by 2060.

And this mask fiasco is the lesser problem for the American working class right now. A significant portion of its people is going hungry . That magic USD 1,200 check is not coming soon:

"the checks are not in the mail."

And the problem isn't just in the USA. The periphery of Western Civilization is also going to suffer:

Germany and France: the sharpest contractions in national output for 75 years.

Germany's economy will shrink almost 10 per cent in the three months to June, according to the country's top economic research institutes, the sharpest decline since quarterly national accounts began in 1970 and double the size of the biggest drop in the 2008 financial crisis.

The shutdown of vast swaths of economic activity to contain the spread of the pandemic is knocking 1.5 percentage points off French growth for every two weeks that it continues, the Banque de France warned on Wednesday.

After more than three weeks in lockdown, French economic output is expected to have fallen by the sharpest rate since the second world war, the central bank said, forecasting that gross domestic product contracted 6 per cent in the first three months of the year.


jared , Apr 8 2020 13:41 utc | 26
However, to the matter of Israel and the virus:
I thought they were having strangely little impact from virus.

Anyway, this is all very revealing.

You know how people always question:
Why did that woman remain in that abusive relationship?

Nathan Mulcahy , Apr 8 2020 14:18 utc | 29
"US Department of Defense give 1 million masks to IDF for coronavirus use"

MIGA

Phryne's frock , Apr 8 2020 14:23 utc | 31
Get everyone you know to read "Against Our Better Judgment" by Alison Weir. Absolutely the best short, supereasy read to open eyes of those who are unaware that they are unaware, I promise. If you can afford to, buy copies to give away.
red1chief , Apr 8 2020 14:34 utc | 32
Very brief, "b", but one of your best posts. This is an unmitigated outrage. The arrogance of the ruling class knows no bounds, and they are acting with impunity. Seems the ruling class doesn't even care anymore how widely known it is that the US has little sovereignty.
Circe , Apr 8 2020 14:41 utc | 35
Is Trump charging for the masks or are they an added bonus to the 4 billion Israel already gets annually?

In 2018 Trump cut all aid to UNRWA destined for Palestine.

Screw Trump. Palestinians have started producing their own masks; up to 50,000 per day as well as protective gowns.

[Apr 06, 2020] much of the debt taken on by corporations was not used for mergers, acquisitions, or capital expenditures, but the funding of share repurchases and dividend issuance

The stock market became completely parathitic semi-criminal way to redistribute the wealth up.
Important fact: "SEC research found that many corporate executives sell significant amounts of their own shares after their companies announce stock buybacks, Yahoo Finance reports." ...And who gets the privilege to PAY for those bailouts – YOU. The U.S. Taxpayer.
Notable quotes:
"... "The explosion of corporate debt in recent years will become problematic during the next bear market. As the deterioration in asset prices increases, many companies will be unable to refinance their debt, or worse, forced to liquidate. With the current debt-to-GDP ratio at historic highs, it is unlikely this will end mildly." ..."
"... while earnings per share have risen by over 270% since the beginning of 2009; revenue growth has barely eclipsed 60%." ..."
"... the real beneficiaries of share purchases are insiders where changes in compensation structures have become heavily dependent on stock-based compensation. Insiders regularly liquidate shares that were "given" to them as part of their overall compensation structure to convert them into actual wealth. ..."
"... "Corporate executives give several reasons for stock buybacks but none of them has close to the explanatory power of this simple truth: Stock-based instruments make up the majority of their pay and in the short-term buybacks drive up stock prices." ..."
"... SEC research found that many corporate executives sell significant amounts of their own shares after their companies announce stock buybacks, Yahoo Finance reports. ..."
"... The misuse, and abuse, of share buybacks to manipulate earnings and reward insiders clearly became problematic . ..."
"... Furthermore, share repurchases are the "least best" use of company's liquid cash . Instead of using cash to expand production, increase sales, acquire competitors, make capital expenditures, or buy into new products or services, which could provide a long-term benefit. Instead, the cash was used for a one-time boost to earnings on a per-share basis. ..."
"... "Perhaps no other industry illustrates the awkward position that corporate America finds itself in more than airlines. Major airlines spent $19 billion repurchasing their own shares over the last three years. Now, with the coronavirus virtually paralyzing the global travel industry, these companies are in deep financial trouble and looking to the federal government to bail them out ." – The New York Times ..."
"... Corporate buybacks have been the largest source of demand the last few years. 75% of announced buyback programs have been cancelled. So who is the incremental buyer with Boomers retiring in droves who hold the majority of wealth? ..."
"... Without that $4 trillion in stock buybacks, not to mention the $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve, the stock market would not have been able to rise as much as it did over the last decade. ..."
Apr 06, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Aaand Its Gone... The Biggest Support For Asset Prices by Tyler Durden Mon, 04/06/2020 - 12:15 Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Since the passage of "tax cuts," in late 2017, the surge in corporate share buybacks has become a point of much debate. I previously wrote that stock buybacks were setting records over the past couple of years. Jeffery Marcus of TP Analytics, recently confirmed the same:

"U.S. firms have been the biggest incremental buyer of stocks in each of the past four years, with their net purchases exceeding $2 trillion – Federal Reserve data on fund flows compiled by Goldman Sachs showed."

As John Authers previously noted:

"For much of the last decade, companies buying their own shares have accounted for all net purchases. The total amount of stock bought back by companies since the 2008 crisis even exceeds the Federal Reserve's spending on buying bonds over the same period as part of quantitative easing. Both pushed up asset prices."

In other words, between the Federal Reserve injecting a massive amount of liquidity into the financial markets, and corporations buying back their own shares, there have been effectively no other real buyers in the market.

Of course, as a corporation, you can't spend all of your cash buying back shares, so with near-zero interest rates, debt became the most logical option. As shown below, much of the debt taken on by corporations was not used for mergers, acquisitions, or capital expenditures, but the funding of share repurchases and dividend issuance.

Unsurprisingly, when you are issuing that much debt for share repurchases, there is a correlation with asset prices. Interestingly, we warned previously:

"The explosion of corporate debt in recent years will become problematic during the next bear market. As the deterioration in asset prices increases, many companies will be unable to refinance their debt, or worse, forced to liquidate. With the current debt-to-GDP ratio at historic highs, it is unlikely this will end mildly."

While that warning fell mostly on "dear ears," the debt is now being bailed out by the Fed through every possible monetary program imaginable.

No, Buybacks Are Not Shareholder Friendly

Let's clear something up. Buybacks are NOT shareholder-friendly. The reason that companies spent billions on buybacks is to increase bottom-line earnings per share, which provides the "illusion" of increasing profitability to support higher share prices. Since revenue growth has remained extremely weak since the financial crisis, companies have become dependent on inflating earnings on a "per share" basis by reducing the denominator.

"As the chart below shows, while earnings per share have risen by over 270% since the beginning of 2009; revenue growth has barely eclipsed 60%."

Yes, share purchases can be good for current shareholders if the stock price rises. Still, the real beneficiaries of share purchases are insiders where changes in compensation structures have become heavily dependent on stock-based compensation. Insiders regularly liquidate shares that were "given" to them as part of their overall compensation structure to convert them into actual wealth. Via the Financial Times:

"Corporate executives give several reasons for stock buybacks but none of them has close to the explanatory power of this simple truth: Stock-based instruments make up the majority of their pay and in the short-term buybacks drive up stock prices."

That statement was supported by a study from the Securities & Exchange Commission which found the same issues:

Not surprisingly, as corporate share buybacks are hitting record highs, so was corporate insider selling. The misuse, and abuse, of share buybacks to manipulate earnings and reward insiders clearly became problematic .

Furthermore, share repurchases are the "least best" use of company's liquid cash . Instead of using cash to expand production, increase sales, acquire competitors, make capital expenditures, or buy into new products or services, which could provide a long-term benefit. Instead, the cash was used for a one-time boost to earnings on a per-share basis.

Now, all the companies that spent years issuing debt, and burning their cash, to buy back debt are now begging the Government for a bailout.

"Perhaps no other industry illustrates the awkward position that corporate America finds itself in more than airlines. Major airlines spent $19 billion repurchasing their own shares over the last three years. Now, with the coronavirus virtually paralyzing the global travel industry, these companies are in deep financial trouble and looking to the federal government to bail them out ." – The New York Times

And who gets the privilege to PAY for those bailouts – YOU. The U.S. Taxpayer.

Loss Of Support

As we warned previously, when CEO's become concerned about their business, the first thing they will do is begin to cut back, or eliminate, stock buyback programs. To wit:

"CEO's make decisions on how they use their cash. If concerns of a recession persist, it is likely to push companies to become more conservative on the use of their cash, rather than continuing to repurchase shares. If that source of market liquidity fades, the market will have a much tougher time maintaining current levels, or going higher."

Yes, companies are indeed reacting to the "coronavirus" pandemic currently. However, they were already in the process of cutting back on repurchases in 2019. As noted recently by Jeffery Marcus:

"Birinyi Associates, the leading firm that does research on buybacks, shows below that announced buybacks have declined significantly in 2019 ' it's the biggest drop to start a year since 2009.'"

This is also because cash balances fell sharply, as corporations loaded-up on debt.

As the impact of the "economic shutdown" deepens, corporations are scrambling to protect their coffers. As noted on Friday, 75% of announced buyback programs have been cancelled.

Corporate buybacks have been the largest source of demand the last few years. 75% of announced buyback programs have been cancelled. So who is the incremental buyer with Boomers retiring in droves who hold the majority of wealth? pic.twitter.com/1IlRrruxDX

-- Greg S. (@GS_CapSF) April 4, 2020

Greg's tweet has a complete table, but here is the relevant chart. There is a tremendous amount of support being extracted.

Do not dismiss the data lightly.

The chart below is the S&P 500 Buyback Index versus the Total Return index. Following the financial crisis, as companies began to lever up their balance sheets to increase stock buybacks. There was a marked outperformance by those companies leading up to the crisis.

However, while corporate buybacks have accounted for the majority of net purchases of equities in the market, the benefit of pushing asset prices higher, outside of the brief moment in 2018 when tax cuts were implemented, allowing for repatriation of cash, performance has waned. Now, those companies which engaged in leveraging up their balance sheet to engage in repurchases shares are significantly underperforming the total return index.

Without that $4 trillion in stock buybacks, not to mention the $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve, the stock market would not have been able to rise as much as it did over the last decade.

Conclusion

As I stated, CEO's make decisions on how they use their cash. With the economy shut down, layoffs in the millions, and no clear visibility about the economic recovery post-pandemic, companies are going to become vastly more conservative on the use of their cash.

Given that source of market liquidity is now gone, the market will have a much tougher time maintaining current levels, much less going higher. As noted by the Financial Times:

"The rebound in equities has sparked optimism that we may be past the worst. However, we still believe it is too early to the call the bottom. From a positioning perspective we still believe there hasn't been a full capitulation.

Hedge funds and risk-parity funds have reduced their equity exposure considerably. But institutional active funds and passive products have room for further outflows. The fiscal bill passed by the US government also allows individuals to withdraw up to $100k from their 401k, without penalty. We believe this could result in over $50bn of further outflows from the retail community. As well, over 50 companies in the S&P 500 have already suspended their share repurchase programs, which accounted for over 25% of buybacks in 2019. We believe the slowdown in buybacks could result in $300bn of lost inflows in the next two quarters." – HSBC

Be careful.

The bear market isn't over yet... not by a long shot.

[Apr 03, 2020] Senator Loeffler's COVID-Related Stock Trades Looking Even Worse, While Feds Start Investigating Senator Burr's Techdirt

Apr 03, 2020 | www.techdirt.com

Legal Issues from the insider-trading dept Thu, Apr 2nd 2020 12:00pm -- Mike Masnick

As we noted just a few weeks ago, two Senators -- Kelly Loeffler from Georgia and Richard Burr from North Carolina, both of whom were publicly trying to play down the risks associated with COVID-19 -- were quietly engaging in stock trades that suggested they had a different viewpoint (while five different Senators sold stock during this period, only Loeffler's and Burr's look particularly suspicious). Burr's stock sell-off was revealed first, and got the most attention, in part because he's also the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and was getting classified briefings about COVID-19. The latest news on that front is that the Justice Department has supposedly opened an investigation :

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr sold off a large amount of stocks before the coronavirus market crash, and now the Justice Department is looking into his statements around this time period, NPR can report.

Others have reported that the FBI has been in contact with Burr. That doesn't mean much for now, and the investigation may turn up nothing. But it's worth noting that it's happening.

The other Senator, Kelly Loeffler, has some more bad news, as new reports suggest even more stock trading that at least looks suspicious. As was noted in the original report, Loeffler had sold off a bunch of retail stock, and bought into a company that does videoconferencing. The original reports suggest that she sold off somewhere between $1.3 million and $3.1 million in stock right before the US economy went south. Turns out it was way more. The new report shows that she also sold off nearly $19 million in stock of Intercontinental Exchange, the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange. It is worth noting that Loeffler's husband is the chair and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, and the sales took place between February 26th and March 11th. That means at least some of those sales were happening while she was insisting that the US had everything under control .

Perhaps even more damning, though? Beyond buying into a videoconferencing software company, Loeffler and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, also purchased a bunch of stock in DuPont, a major supplier of the personal protective gear that hospitals are all now desperate for:

Sprecher bought $206,774 in chemical giant DuPont de Nemours in four transactions in late February and early March. DuPont has performed poorly on Wall Street lately, but the company is a major supplier of desperately needed personal protective gear as the global pandemic strains hospital and first responders.

So, to recap: they sold somewhere in the range of $20 million worth of mostly stock market and retail companies -- and bought into videoconferencing and protective health gear. All while telling the public that the government she's a part of has everything under control.

[Mar 26, 2020] The face of Trump in foreign policy is Pompeo and it is wicked, ungly face of a gangster

Yet another Gofgather
Notable quotes:
"... The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be . ..."
March 24, 2020 < Older
No Respite for the Wicked, Pompeo Unleashed Written by Tom Luongo Tuesday

There are few things in this life that make me more sick to my stomach than watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking. He truly is one of the evilest men I've ever had the displeasure of covering.

Into the insanity of the over-reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pompeo wasted no time ramping up sanctions on firms doing any business with Iran, one of the countries worse-hit by this virus to date.

It's a seemingly endless refrain, everyday, more sanctions on Chinese, Swiss and South African firms for having the temerity in these deflating times to buy oil from someone Pompeo and his gang of heartless psychopaths disapprove of.

This goes far beyond just the oil industry. Even though I'm well aware that Russia's crashing the price of oil was itself a hybrid war attack on US capital markets. One that has had, to date, devastating effect.

While Pompeo mouths the words publicly that humanitarian aid is exempted from sanctions on Iran, the US is pursuing immense pressure on companies to not do so anyway while the State Dept. bureaucracy takes its sweet time processing waiver applications.

Pompeo and his ilk only think in terms of civilizational warfare. They have become so subsumed by their big war for the moral high ground to prove American exceptionalism that they have lost any shred of humanity they may have ever had.

Because for Pompeo in times like these to stick to his talking points and for his office to continue excising Iran from the global economy when we're supposed to be coming together to fight a global pandemic is the height of soullessness.

And it speaks to the much bigger problem that infects all of our political thinking. There comes a moment when politics and gaining political advantage have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.

I've actually seen moments of that impulse from the Democratic leadership in the US Will wonders never cease?!

Thinking only in Manichean terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizing your opponents is actually costlier than reversing course right now. Because honey is always better at attracting flies than vinegar.

But, unfortunately, that is not the character of the Trump administration.

It can only think in terms of direct leverage and opportunity to hold onto what they think they've achieved. So, until President Trump is no longer consumed with coordinating efforts to control COVID-19 Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in charge of foreign policy. They will continue the playbook that has been well established.

Maximum pressure on Iran, hurt China any way they can, hold onto what they have in Syria, stay in Iraq.

To that end Iraqi President Barham Salei nominated Pompeo's best choice to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to throw Iraq's future into complete turmoil. According to Elijah Magnier, Adnan al-Zarfi is a US asset through and through .

And this looks like Pompeo's Hail Mary to retain US legal presence in Iraq after the Iraqi parliament adopted a measure to demand withdrawal of US troops from the country. Airstrikes against US bases in Iraq continue on a near daily basis and there have been reports of US base closures and redeployments at the same time.

This move looks like desperation by Pompeo et.al. to finally separate the Hashd al-Shaabi from Iraq's official military. So that airstrikes against them can be carried out under the definition of 'fighting Iranian terrorism.'

As Magnier points out in the article above if al-Zarfi puts a government together the war in Iraq will expand just as the US is losing further control in Syria after Turkish President Erdogan's disastrous attempt to remake the front in Idlib. That ended with his effective surrender to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be .

It is sad that, to me, I see no reason to doubt Pompeo and his ilk in the US government wouldn't do something like that to spark political and social upheaval in those places most targeted by US hybrid war tactics.

But, at the same time, I can see the other side of it, a vicious strike back by China against its tormentors. And China's government does itself, in my mind, no favors threatening to withhold drug precursors and having officials run their mouths giving Americans the excuse they need to validate Trump and Pompeo's divisive rhetoric.

Remaining on the fence about this issue isn't my normal style. But everyone is dirty here and the reality may well be this is a natural event terrible people on both sides are exploiting.

And I can only go by what people do rather than what they say to assess the situation. Trump tries to buy exclusive right to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a German firm and his administration slow-walks aid to Iran.

China sends aid to Iran and Italy by the container full. Is that to salve their conscience over its initial suppression of information about the virus? Good question. But no one covers themselves in glory by using the confusion and distraction to attempt further regime change and step up war-footing during a public health crisis, manufactured or otherwise.

While Pompeo unctuously talks the talk of compassion and charity, he cannot bring himself to actually walk the walk. Because he is a despicable, bile-filled man of uncommon depravity. His prosecuting a hybrid war during a public health crisis speaks to no other conclusion about him.

It's clear to me that nothing has changed at the top of Trump's administration. I expect COVID-19 will not be a disaster for Trump and the US. It can handle this. But the lack of humanity shown by its diplomatic corps ensures that in the long run the US will be left to fend for itself when the next crisis hits.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .


Related

[Mar 21, 2020] Tulsi Gabbard says insider traders should be 'investigated prosecuted,' as Left and Right team up on profiteering senator

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "better prepared than ever ..."
"... "akin to the 1918 pandemic." ..."
"... "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," ..."
"... "Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks." ..."
"... "stomach churning," ..."
"... "For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," ..."
"... "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself." ..."
"... "If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," ..."
"... "calling for immediate investigations" ..."
"... "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, commenters from all sides have demanded swift punishment for US senators who dumped stock after classified Covid-19 briefings. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has called for criminal prosecution. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) has received daily briefings on the threat posed by Covid-19 since January. Burr insisted to the public that America was ready to handle the virus, but sold up to $1.5 million in stocks on February 13, less than a week before the stock market nosedived, according to Senate filings . Immediately before the sale, Burr wrote an op-ed assuring Americans that their government is "better prepared than ever " to handle the virus.

Also on rt.com Liberal icon Sean Penn wants a 'compassionate' army deployment to fight Covid-19

After the sale, NPR reported that he told a closed-door meeting of North Carolina business leaders that the virus actually posed a threat "akin to the 1918 pandemic." Burr does not dispute the NPR report.

In a tweet on Saturday, former 2020 presidential candidate and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for criminal investigations. "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," she wrote.

"Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks."

Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated & prosecuted for insider trading (the STOCK Act). It is illegal & abuse of power. Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks. https://t.co/rbVfJxrk3r

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 21, 2020

Burr was not the only lawmaker on Capitol Hill to take precautions, it was reported. Fellow Intelligence Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and her husband sold off more than a million dollars of shares in a biotech company five days later, while Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe (R) made a smaller sale around the same time. Both say their sales were routine.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) attended a Senate Health Committee briefing on the outbreak on January 24. The very same day, she began offloading stock, dropping between $1.2 and $3.1 million in shares over the following weeks. The companies whose stock she sold included airlines, retail outlets, and Chinese tech firm Tencent.

She did, however, invest in cloud technology company Oracle, and Citrix, a teleworking company whose value has increased by nearly a third last week, as social distancing measures forced more and more Americans to work from home. All of Loeffler's transactions were made with her husband, Jeff Sprecher, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) have joined the clamor of voices demanding punishment. Ocasio-Cortez described the sales as "stomach churning," while Omar reached across the aisle to side with Fox News' Tucker Carlson in calling for Burr's resignation.

I am 💯 with him on this 😱 https://t.co/Gbi3i2BagY

-- Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 20, 2020

"For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," Carlson said during a Friday night monolog. "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself."

As of Saturday, there are nearly 25,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US, with the death toll heading towards 300. Now both sides of the political aisle seem united in disgust at the apparent profiteering of Burr, Loeffler, and Feinstein.

Right-wing news outlet Breitbart savaged Burr for voting against the STOCK Act in 2012, a piece of legislation that would have barred members of Congress from using non-public information to profit on the stock market. At the same time, a host of Democratic figures - including former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Kirsten Gillibrand - weighed in with their own criticism too.

"If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," Yang tweeted on Friday.

If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest.

-- Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) March 20, 2020

Watchdog group Common Cause has filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee "calling for immediate investigations" of Burr, Loeffler, Feinstein and Inhofe "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws."

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[Mar 21, 2020] Tucker Senator Burr sold shares after virus briefing

Highly recommended!
Mar 21, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Bowhead31 , 5 hours ago

The problem is these people no longer see themselves as public servants.

Maria Summers , 6 hours ago

The Georgia Senator is just as guilty as the rest of them, regarding "Insider Trading".

shane passey , 3 hours ago

She's a crook just like the rest of the politicians. They say they be there for the people. But they're really there to make themselves rich

[Mar 21, 2020] Don't forget our congress critter Senator Kelly Loeffler

Mar 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@supenau

who make profits as well. I cannot remember exactly when insider trading for them became legal but it should be no surprise to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that they're ALL doing it. That is one reason, at least in my semi-educated opinion, they did not go after Trump for emoluments during Shampeachment, because THEY ALL DO IT.

That goes all the way to the White House, no doubt.

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 10:28am

Looks as if the crisis profiteers were on top of it:

Think about this:

Weeks before you had any inkling you were going to lose your job, was selling off millions of stocks -- and *buying* stock in a teleworking company.

-- Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 20, 2020

[Mar 20, 2020] This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:25 utc | 225

A group of economists and policy experts on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to immediately lift the United States' crippling sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries, warning that the economic warfare -- in addition to being cruel in itself -- is "feeding the coronavirus epidemic" by hampering nations' capacity to respond.

"This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible," Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement just hours after the Trump administration intensified sanctions against Iran, which has been devastated by COVID-19.

https://truthout.org/articles/economists-demand-trump-immediately-lift-iran-cuba-venezuela-sanctions/

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:37 utc | 229

Promising to "smash" Venezuela's government during a "maximum pressure March," Trump has imposed crushing sanctions that force Venezuela to spend three times as much as non-sanctioned countries on coronavirus testing kits.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/17/us-sanctions-venezuelas-health-sector-coronavirus/

[Mar 11, 2020] Sugar and Spice and Everything Vice the Empire's Sin City of London

Mar 11, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

... ... ...

The 2008 crisis put in the spotlight the psychopathic level of greed, vice, apathy and short-sightedness from those who wanted to play into the City of London and Wall Street casino houses. Get rich quick and don't care who you screw in the process, after all, at the end of the day you're either a winner or a loser.

Since the general public tends to consist of decent people, there is a widespread difficulty in comprehending how entire economies of countries have been hijacked by these piranhas. That we have hit such a level of crime that even people's hard earned pensions, education, health-care, housing etc. are all being gambled away LEGALLY.

Looking upon investment bankers today, one is reminded of those sad addicts in the casino who are ruined and lose everything, except the difference is, they are given the option to sell their neighbour's family into slavery to pay off their debt.

It is no secret that much of the "finance" that goes through the City of London and Wall Street is dirty and yet despite this recognition, there appears to be an inability to address it and that at this point we are told that if we tried to address it by breaking up and regulating the "Too Big to Fail" banks, then the whole economy would come tumbling down.

That is, the world is so evidently run by criminal activity that at this point we have become dependent on its dirty money to keep afloat the world economy.

Faced with the onrushing collapse of the financial system, the greatest Ivy League trained minds of the world have run into a dead end: the bailouts into the banking system that began this past September have prevented a chain reaction meltdown for a few months, but as the liquidity runs out so too will the ideas on where the money justifying bank bailouts will come from.

With these dead ends, we have seen the lightbulb go off in the minds of a large strata of economists who have been making the case in recent years that valuable revenue can yet be generated from one more untapped stream: the decriminalisation and legalisation of vice.

Hell, the major banks have already been doing this covertly as a matter of practice for generations so why not just come out of the closet and make it official? This is where the money is at. This is where the job market is at. So let us not "bite the hand that feeds us"!

But is this truly the case? Is there really no qualitative difference how the money is generated and how it is spent as long as there is an adequate money flow?

Well it is never a good sign when beside the richest you can also find the poorest just a stone's throw away. And right beside the largest financial center in the world, the City of London, there lies the poorest borough in all of London: Tower Hamlets with a 39% poverty rate and an average family income amounting to less than £ 13, 000/year .

A City within a City

" Hell is a city much like London "

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Although Wall Street has contributed greatly to this sad situation, this banking hub of America is best understood as the spawn of the City of London.

The City of London is over 800 years old, it is arguably older than England herself, a nd for over 400 years it has been the financial center of the world.

During the medieval period the City of London, otherwise known as the Square Mile or simply the City, was divided into 25 ancient wards headed each by an alderman. This continues today . In addition, there existed the ominously titled City of London Corporation, or simply the Corporation, which is the municipal governing body of the City. This also still continues today .

Though the Corporation's origins cannot be specifically dated, since there was never a "surviving" charter found establishing its "legal" basis, it has kept its functions to this day based on the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is a charter of rights agreed to by King John in 1215, which states that " the City of London shall have/enjoy its ancient liberties ". In other words, the legal function of the Corporation has never been questioned, reviewed, re-evaluated EVER but rather it has been left to legally function as in accordance with their "ancient liberties", which is a very grey description of function if you ask me. In other words, they are free to do as they deem fit.

And it gets worst. The Corporation is not actually under the jurisdiction of the British government. That is, the British government presently does not have the authority to undermine how the Corporation of the City chooses to govern the largest financial center in the world . The City has a separate voting system that allows for, well, corporations to vote in how their separate "government" should run. It also has its own private police force and system of private courts.

The Corporation is not just limited to functioning within the City. The City Remembrancer, which sounds more like a warped version of the ghost of Christmas past, has the role of acting as a channel of communication between the Corporation and the Sovereign (the Queen), the Royal Household and Parliament. The Remembrancer thus acts as a "reminder", some would even say "enforcer", of the will of the Corporation. This position has been held by Paul Double since 2003, it is not clear who bestows this non-elected position.

Mr. Double has the right to act as an official lobbyist in the House of Commons, and sits to the right of the Speaker's chair, with the purpose of scrutinising and influencing any legislation he deems affects the interests of the Corporation. He also appears to have the right to review any piece of legislation as it is being drafted and can even comment on it affecting its final outcome. He is the only non-elected person allowed into the House of Commons.

According to the official City of London website , the reason why the City has a separate voting system is because:

"The City is the only area in the country in which the number of workers significantly outnumbers the residents and therefore, to be truly representative of its population, offers a vote to City organisations so they can have their say on the way the City is run."

However, the workers have absolutely no say. The City's organisations they work for have a certain size vote based on the number of workers they employ, but they do not consult these workers, and many of them are not even aware that such elections take place.

If you feel like you have just walked through Alice's Looking Glass, you're not alone, but what appears to be an absurd level of madness is what has been running the largest financial center in the world since the 1600s, under the machinations of the British Empire.

Therefore the question is, if the City of London has kept its "ancient liberties" and has upheld its global financial power, is the British Empire truly gone?

Offshore Banking: Adam Smith's Invisible Hand?

Contrary to popular naïve belief, the empire on which the sun never sets (some say " because God wouldn't trust them in the dark ") never went away .

After WWII, colonisation was meant to be done away with, and many thought, so too with the British Empire. Countries were reclaiming their sovereignty, governments were being set up by the people, the system of looting and pillaging had come to an end.

It is a nice story, but could not be further from the truth.

In the 1950s, to "adapt" to the changing global financial climate, the City of London set up what are called "secrecy jurisdictions". These were to operate within the last remnants of Britain's small territories/colonies. Of Britain's 14 oversea territories, 7 are bona fide tax havens or "secrecy jurisdictions". A separate international financial market was also created to facilitate the flow of this offshore money, the Eurodollar market. Since this market has its banks outside of the UK and U.S., they are not under the jurisdiction of either country.

By 1997, nearly 90% of all international loans were made through this market.

What is often misunderstood is that the City of London's offshore finances are not contained in a system of banking secrecy but rather of trusts. The difference being that a trust ultimately plays with the concept of ownership. The idea is that you hand over your assets to a trustee and at that point, legally those assets are no longer yours anymore and you are not responsible for accounting for them. Your connection to said assets is completely hidden.

In addition, within Britain's offshore jurisdictions, there is no qualification required for who can become a trustee: anyone can set up a trust and anyone can become a trustee. There is also no registry of trusts in these territories. Thus, the only ones who know about this arrangement are the trustee and the settler.

John Christensen, an investigative economist, estimates that this capital that legally belongs to nobody could amount to as high as $50 trillion within these British territories. Not only is this not being taxed, but a significant portion of it has been stolen from sectors of the real economy.

So how does this affect "formerly" colonised countries?

There lies the rub for most developing nations. According to John Christensen, the combined external debts of Sub-Saharan African countries was $177 billion in 2008. However, the wealth that these countries' elites moved offshore, between 1970-2008, is estimated at $944 billion, 5X their foreign debt. This is not only dirty money, this is also STOLEN money from the resources and productivity of these economies. Thus, as Christensen states, "Far from being a net debtor to the world, Sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor" to offshore finance.

Put in this context, the so-called "backwardness" of Africa is not due to its incapability to produce, but rather that it has been experiencing uninterrupted looting since these regions were first colonised.

These African countries then need to borrow money, which is happily given to them at high interest rates, and accrues a level of debt that could never be repaid. These countries are thus looted twice over, leaving no money left to invest in their future, let alone to put food on the table.

Offshore havens are what make this sort of activity "legal" and rampant.

And it doesn't stop there. Worldwide, it is estimated that developing countries lose $1 trillion every year in capital flight and tax evasion. Most of this wealth goes back into the UK and U.S. through these offshore havens, and allows their currencies to stay strong whilst developing nations' currencies are kept weak.

However, developing nations are not the only ones to have suffered from this system of looting. The very economies of the UK and U.S. have also been gutted. In the 1960s and onward, the UK and U.S., to compensate for the increase in money flow out of their countries decided that it was a good idea to open their domestic markets to the trillions of dollars passing through its offshore havens.

However, such banks are not interested in putting their money into industry and manufacturing, they put their money into real estate speculation, financial speculation and foreign currency trade. And thus the financialization of British and American economies resulted, and the real jobs coming from the real economy decreased or disappeared.

Although many economists try to claim differently, the desperation has boiled over and movements like the yellow vests are reflections of the true consequences of these economic policies.

We have reached a point now where every western first world country is struggling with a much higher unemployment rate and a lower standard of living than 40 years ago. Along with increased poverty has followed increased drug use, increased suicide and increased crime.

A Stable Economy based on Freedom or Slavery?

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) report in 2017 , the UK has by far the highest rate of drug overdose in all of Europe at 31% followed by Germany at 15%. That is, the UK consists of 1/3 drug overdoses that occur in all of Europe.

The average family income in the UK is presently £28, 400. The poverty rate within the UK is ~20%.

The average family income of what was once the epicentre of world industrialisation, Detroit, has an average family income of $26, 249. The poverty rate of Detroit is ~34.5%.

What is the solution?

Reverse Margaret Thatcher's 1986 Big Bang deregulation of the banking system that destroyed the separation of commercial banking, investment banking, trusts and insurance for starters. A similar restoration of Glass-Steagall in the USA should follow suit, not only to break up the "Too Big to Fail" banking system but to restore the authority of nation states over private finance once more. IF these emergency measures were done before the markets collapse (and they will collapse), then the industrial-infrastructure revival throughout trans-Atlantic nations can still occur.

Let us end here by hearkening to the words of Clement Attlee, UK Prime Minister from 1945-1951:

" Over and over again we have seen that there is another power than that which has its seat at Westminster. The City of London, a convenient term for a collection of financial interests, is able to assert itself against the government of the country. Those who control money can pursue a policy at home and abroad contrary to that which is being decided by the people. "

[Mar 11, 2020] A cool article about the impossibility of separating capitalism from mafia-style banditism:

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 10 2020 18:54 utc | 10

To complete the SC's double-header, here's a cool article about the impossibility of separating capitalism from mafia-style banditism:

Sugar and Spice and Everything Vice: the Empire's Sin City of London

Extra points for the headline.

[Mar 09, 2020] "What's the difference between a cannibal and a neoliberal like Senator Warren?"

Mar 09, 2020 | nymag.com

"A cannibal doesn't eat his friends."

[Mar 08, 2020] The depth of Warren betrayal

Notable quotes:
"... How is it that Warren pulling out of the race is a victory for patriarchy and sexism, but Amy Klobuchar pulling out of the race is not causing grief and angst? We Midwesterners just don't get enough respect–and melodrama. ..."
"... She and her dead-end supporters are giving a good run at being the most pathetic story in a primary that includes Zombie Joe Biden ..."
Mar 08, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

XXYY , March 6, 2020 at 2:54 pm

"Why Elizabeth Warren lost" [Ryan Cooper, The Week].

In a press conference discussing her campaign's end, Warren said that she had not decided yet whether to endorse anyone. "I need some space around this," she said.

Astonishing and amazing that Warren, claiming to be a "progressive", did not immediately endorse Sanders, especially when the alternative is the hapless "Senator from MBNA", Joe Biden. Warren also repeatedly refused to endorse Bernie in 2016, a time when the early and enthusiastic support of a prominent woman with progressive credentials would have really helped and perhaps been decisive in the race against Hillary Clinton.

Sanders is the best shot at a progressive US president we have seen in a century, yet Warren apparently needs time to cogitate on the matter for some reason. I hope whatever she ultimately gets for herself is worth it.

False Solace , March 6, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Bernie held out on endorsing Hillary until she signed on to his free college plan. What concession will Warren demand? Something for the people or something for herself? Force Bernie to make his taxes more regressive? She's a joke.

Rory , March 6, 2020 at 9:12 pm

Let's suppose that the one unchangeable goal of the Democratic Party establishment is that Bernie Sanders must not be the party's 2020 nominee. Any other realistic candidate will do, but it must not be Bernie. Let's also suppose that by the time of the party's convention Vice President Bden's weaknesses and unfitness have become so evident that the party simply can't put him forward as its nominee.

Suppose that Senator Warren sees that and thinks of herself as a realistic choice for the party to replace Biden. A veneer of leftishness, but no real threat to Wall Street. I suspect that her entertaining that hope may explain why since suspending her campaign Senator Warren has criticized the idea of Vice President Biden being the party's nominee, but has had nothing favorable to say about Senator Sanders.

urblintz , March 6, 2020 at 3:47 pm

And here's the email I sent Warren:

"You cried yesterday because you can't be POTUS then went on CNN and trashed Bernie AGAIN (when has he ever trashed you?) by way of his supporters. BOO-HOO. You should have focused your attention on the factory floor (working women) not the glass ceiling.

Politics is a nasty game which you have proven to be expert at. You have earned every criticism in whatever form it comes, frankly. But because you can't be POTUS this time, you will take your ball and go home, so there! with the emotional maturity of a 5 year old.

DJG , March 6, 2020 at 4:26 pm

urblintz

A worker wonders:

Matthew , March 6, 2020 at 9:44 pm

She and her dead-end supporters are giving a good run at being the most pathetic story in a primary that includes Zombie Joe Biden.

Just mind-bogglingly entitled upper and upper middle class trash. I regret ever thinking of voting for her, I regret ever hearing her name, and I look forward to the day she endorses someone so I never have to think about her again.

Matthew , March 6, 2020 at 9:47 pm

The person who read her Twitter mentions for her was on Twitter begging for Venmo donations for, I guess, her emotional trauma. Christ I hate these people.

[Mar 07, 2020] Warren Urged by National Organization for Women Not to Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next to Nothing for Women'

That art of betrail, demonstrated by notable ruthless female careerst.
Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

jo6pac , March 6, 2020 at 2:26 pm

What did Anita Hill ever do warren or now?

"Warren Urged by National Organization for Women Not to Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next to Nothing for Women'

Eureka Springs , March 6, 2020 at 2:58 pm

There's always a tweet rebuttal for what fails us )

https://twitter.com/KatQannayahu/status/1235986901741395968

In 1995, Gloria Steinem, spoke of making @BernieSanders an "honorary woman" because his advocacy for women was so strong then, and has continued strong over the decades.

curlydan , March 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm

exactly. Look at the prime examples of how Biden treats women in the public sphere: treating Anita Hill like crap and nuzzling random women. And N.O.W. wants Warren to endorse Biden? Sheesh.

Titus , March 6, 2020 at 4:06 pm

And Warren wonders why she didn't get the votes. Does Warren think being a women per se means only she is capable of going something for women. How childish.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 2:01 am

Because when Sanders jawboned Amazon into raising wages, none of the workers who got the raised were women.

That's because to the PMC feminists of NOW -- another NGO to euthanize given how poorly they have performed as measured by their stated goals -- only PMC women are truly women. The working class is an undifferentiated mass without individual identities. That is, in fact, what the Bernie Bro " meme conveys. No female supporter of Sanders can possibly be a real woman, and even more revealing, Sanders supporters are coded male by default, a patriarchal semiotic that would drive NOW and its ilk, er, bananas in any other context.

Rhondda , March 7, 2020 at 8:40 am

"Bernie Bros" = all Sanders supporters [coded male]. Wow, yes! -- Exactly! That's a penetrating insight, Lambert. Thank you!

[Mar 07, 2020] Democrat Establishment deliberatly hands control over the nomination to the political establisment in states they will never win in the general elections

So sellout by Clinton of the Democratic Party to Wall Street proved to be durable and sustainable...
Bernie again behaves like a sheep dog with no intention to win... "Let's be friends" is not a viable strategy...
Notable quotes:
"... the same character traits that make him an honorable politician also make him fundamentally unsuited for the difficult task of waging a successful outsider campaign for the nomination of a major political party. ..."
"... Why hasn't Sara Nelson, head of the Flight Attendants' Union, endorsed Bernie? (Personally I have always thought she'd be a good VP.) ..."
"... Robinson is dreaming if he thinks Non-Profit Industrial Complex entities like EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood will lift a finger to help Sanders, or busines unionists like Randi Weingarten. To his credit, though, Ady Barkan switched immediately. External support, though is correct: IIRC, there are plenty of union locals to be had; the Culinary Workers should be only the first. ..."
"... "Corporate Lobbyists Control the Rules at the DNC" [ ReadSludge ]. "Among the 447 total voting DNC members, who make up the majority of 771 superdelegates, there are scores of corporate lobbyists and consultants -- including many of the 75 at-large DNC members, who were not individually elected . ..."
"... The 32-member DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee contains the following 20 individuals: a health insurance board member co-chair, three surrogates for presidential campaigns (two for Bloomberg, one for Biden), four current corporate lobbyists, two former corporate lobbyists, six corporate consultants, and four corporate lawyers." ..."
"... "Joe Biden is a friend of mine" is the 2020-updated version of "enough about the damn e-mails, already". No amount of ground-level organizing can make up for a candidate willing to publicly overlook what should be high-office-disqualifying fundamental character traits in his opponents out of "niceness". ..."
"... It's easy to do a post Super Tuesday defeat analysis of Sanders but remember, everything seems to work before SC where I think the Democrats fixed the election and the same holds for Super Tuesday. ..."
"... post-dial-up-modem ..."
Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Sanders (D)(1): "Bernie Sanders needs to find the killer instinct" [Matthew Walther, The Week ]. I've heard Useful Idiots, Dead Pundits, and the inimitable Jimmy Dore all make the same point, but Walther's prose makes the point most forcefully (as prose often does). The situation:

There is no greater contrast imaginable than the one between the popular (and frequently exaggerated) image of so-called "Bernie bros" and the almost painfully conciliatory instincts of the man they support.

This was fully in evidence on Wednesday afternoon when Sanders responded to arguably the worst defeat of his political career by chatting with journalists about how " disgusted " he is at unspecified online comments directed at Elizabeth Warren and her supporters and what a " decent guy " Joe Biden is.

He did this despite the fact that Warren, with the connivance of debate moderators, recently called him a sexist in front of an audience of millions, effectively announcing that she had no interest in making even a tacit alliance with the only other progressive candidate in the race and, one imagines, despite thinking that the former vice president's record on virtually everything -- finance, health care, race relations, the environment, foreign policy -- should render him ineligible for office.

It should go without saying that offering these pleasantries will do Sanders few if any favors.

Lambert here: This is a Presidential primary, not the Senate floor. There is no comity. Walther then gives a list of possible scorched earth tactics to use against Biden; we could all make such a list. But then:

Sanders's benevolent disposition does him credit. But the same character traits that make him an honorable politician also make him fundamentally unsuited for the difficult task of waging a successful outsider campaign for the nomination of a major political party.

Corbyn had the same problem...

Sanders really must not let Biden and the Democrat Establishment off the hook. He seems to have poor judgment about his friends. Warren was no "friend." And neither is Joe Biden.

If Sanders wants friends, he can buy a dog .

He should forget those false friends, go into the next debate, and slice Joe Biden off at the knees. Trump would. And will, if Sander loses.

His canvassers and more importantly his millions of small donors deserve no less. The race and the debate is now between two people, and only one can emerge the winner. Sanders needs to decide if he wants to be that person, and then do what it takes . (If the outcome of the Sanders campaign is a left that is a permanently institutionalized force, distinct from liberal Democrats, I would regard that as a net positive. If that is Sanders' ultimate goal, then fine. He's not going to achieve that goal by being nice to Joe Biden. Quite the reverse.)

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): "Time To Fight Harder Than We've Ever Fought Before" [Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs ].

"Biden now has some formidable advantages going forward: Democrats who no longer see him as a failed or risky bet will finally endorse and campaign for him. He will find it easier to raise money. He will have "momentum." Bloomberg's exit will bring him new voters.

Sanders may find upcoming states even harder to win than the Super Tuesday contests. But the one thing that would guarantee a Sanders loss is giving up and going home, which is exactly what Joe Biden hopes we will now do."

Here follows a laundry list of tactics. Then: "The real thing Bernie needs in order to win, though, is external support. Labor unions, activists, lawmakers, anyone with a public platform: We need to be pressuring them to endorse Bernie.

Why hasn't Sara Nelson, head of the Flight Attendants' Union, endorsed Bernie? (Personally I have always thought she'd be a good VP.)

Now that Elizabeth Warren is clearly not going to win, will organizations like the Working Families Party and EMILY's List and people like AFT president Randi Weingarten and Medicare For All advocate Ady Barkan switch and endorse Sanders?

Where is the Sierra Club, SEIU (Bernie, after all, was one of the first national figures to push Fight for $15), the UAW, Planned Parenthood? Many progressive organizations have been sitting out the race because Warren was in it."

Good ideas in general, but Robinson is dreaming if he thinks Non-Profit Industrial Complex entities like EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood will lift a finger to help Sanders, or busines unionists like Randi Weingarten. To his credit, though, Ady Barkan switched immediately. External support, though is correct: IIRC, there are plenty of union locals to be had; the Culinary Workers should be only the first.

Warren (D)(1): "Why Elizabeth Warren lost" [Ryan Cooper, The Week ]. "Starting in November, however, she started a long decline that continued through January, when she started losing primaries . So what happened in November?

It is hard to pin down exactly what is happening in such a chaotic race, but Warren's campaign certainly made a number of strategic errors. One important factor was surely that Warren started backing away from Medicare-for-all, selling instead a bizarre two-step plan.

The idea supposedly was to pass universal Medicare with two different bills, one in her first year as president and one in the third year. Given how difficult it is to pass anything through Congress, and that there could easily be fewer Democrats in 2023 than in 2021, it was a baffling decision. Worse, Warren then released a plan for financing Medicare-for-all that was simply terrible.

Rather than levying a new progressive tax, she would turn existing employer contributions to private health insurance plans into a tax on employers, which would gradually converge to an average for all businesses but the smallest. The clear objective here was to claim that she would pay for it without levying any new taxes on the middle or working classes. But because those employer payments are still part of labor compensation, it is ultimately workers who pay them -- making Warren's plan a horribly regressive head tax (that is, an equal dollar tax on almost all workers regardless of income).

All that infuriated the left, and struck directly at Warren's branding as the candidate of technical competence. It suggested her commitment to universal Medicare was not as strong as she claimed, and that she would push classic centrist-style Rube Goldberg policies rather than clean, fair ones. (Her child care plan, with its complicated means-testing system, had a similar defect).

Claiming her plan was the only one not to raise taxes on the middle class was simply dishonest. In sum, this was a classic failed straddle that alienated the left but gained no support among anti-universal health care voters. More speculatively, this kind of hesitation and backtracking may have turned off many voters." • On #MedicareForAll, called it here on "pay for" ; and here on "transition." Warren's plans should not have been well-received, and they were not. I'm only amazed that these really technical arguments penetrated the media (let along the voters).

Warren (D)(2): "Warren Urged by National Organization for Women Not to Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next to Nothing for Women'" [ Newsweek ]. • Establishment really pulling out all the stops.

* * *

"Why Southern Democrats Saved Biden" [Mara Gay, New York Times ]. (Gay was the lone member of the Times Editorial Board to endorse Sanders .) "Through Southern eyes, this election is not about policy or personality. It's about something much darker. Not long ago, these Americans lived under violent, anti-democratic governments. Now, many there say they see in President Trump and his supporters the same hostility and zeal for authoritarianism that marked life under Jim Crow .

They were deeply skeptical that a democratic socialist like Mr. Sanders could unseat Mr. Trump. They liked Ms. Warren, but, burned by Hillary Clinton's loss, were worried that too many of their fellow Americans wouldn't vote for a woman."

Well worth a read. At the same time, it's not clear why the Democrat Establishment hands control over the nomination to the political establishment in states they will never win in the general; the "firewall" in 2016 didn't work out all that well, after all. As for Jim Crow, we might do well to remember that Obama destroyed a generation of Black wealth his miserably inadequate response to the foreclosure crisis, and his pathetic stimulus package kept Black unemployment high for years longer than it should have been. And sowed the dragon's teeth of authoritarian reaction as well.

"Corporate Lobbyists Control the Rules at the DNC" [ ReadSludge ]. "Among the 447 total voting DNC members, who make up the majority of 771 superdelegates, there are scores of corporate lobbyists and consultants -- including many of the 75 at-large DNC members, who were not individually elected .

The 32-member DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee contains the following 20 individuals: a health insurance board member co-chair, three surrogates for presidential campaigns (two for Bloomberg, one for Biden), four current corporate lobbyists, two former corporate lobbyists, six corporate consultants, and four corporate lawyers."


ewmayer , March 6, 2020 at 6:03 pm

"Joe Biden is a friend of mine" is the 2020-updated version of "enough about the damn e-mails, already". No amount of ground-level organizing can make up for a candidate willing to publicly overlook what should be high-office-disqualifying fundamental character traits in his opponents out of "niceness".

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 1:57 am

> Bernie is thinking like an organizer

That's fine, but if his organization is then put at the disposal of Joe Biden, I don't see how the organization survives. (That's why the DNC cheating meme* is important; it provides the moral cover to get out of that loyalty oath (which the Sanders campaign certainly should have had its lawyers take a look at)).

NOTE * Iowa, Texas, and California have all had major voting screw-ups, all of which impacted Sanders voters disproportionately. The campaign should sue. They have the money.)

dcblogger , March 6, 2020 at 2:15 pm

I once met an union organizer and he said he could go back to any site he had worked and be on friendly terms with everyone. Bernie is thinking like an organizer. I think that making this about Social Security is his best bet. It demolishes Biden in a way that makes the election about the American people.

pretzelattack , March 6, 2020 at 2:25 pm

he needs to go after biden on the issues in a much more forceful manner than he typically does, with lots and lots of specifics. did i mention lots of specifics? and lots of pointed references to biden's past positions, and a focus on pinning him down on his position now. he needs to ask questions biden will not be prepared for with easy scripted responses.

JohnnyGL , March 6, 2020 at 2:59 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hcEljDeFEI

Well, he's baited Biden into a spat about SS for now, so that's a positive sign.

drumlin woodchuckles , March 6, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Perhaps if Sanders can keep successfully baiting Biden with hooks baited with Biden's own past statements over and over and over again, that Sanders can then go on to practice some very well disguised passive-aggressive pointing/not-pointing to Biden's mental condition by asking Biden at every opportunity: " don't you remember that, Joe? You remember saying that, don't you Joe? Don't you remember when you said that, Joe?"

Titus , March 6, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Except 70% of Women according to Stanford finding these kind of confrontations distressing to very distressing. Tricky. One changes emotions by using emotions so the trick here is "allowing" Biden to act deranged and expressing sorrow over it. For 70% of guys they won't get the emotional content, but will understand the logic of the questions and lack of answers. It can be done, Bill Clinton and Obama were very good at this. Look you want to be president you got to play the game at the highest level. Good practice for dealing with trump.

Oh , March 6, 2020 at 3:51 pm

Timing was right for both Obama and Clinton. After the GFC voters would have gone for any Democrat because Republicans were toxic. Similarly, it was fortuitous for Clinton because Perot was running and he quit the race a couple of months before the election.

Obama got loads and loads of money from Wall Street. Neither of these guys would stand a chance in an election year when the economy was doing well.

It's easy to do a post Super Tuesday defeat analysis of Sanders but remember, everything seems to work before SC where I think the Democrats fixed the election and the same holds for Super Tuesday.

I didn't see anyone pointing out that Bernie had to be confrontational when he seems to be winning.

Mo's Bike Shop , March 6, 2020 at 8:59 pm

Wait. How many days ago was the field of candidates wide open?

If Bernard does not roast Biden on Social Security I will be disappointed. If Smokin' Joe doesn't lash out with his typical aplomb, I'll be disappointed. I'm saving myself up for bigger disappointments.

I'll be happy with the Vermont interpretation of Huey Long. I'm glad that people are finally noticing we have one Socialist Senator.

Idea for an 'own the slur' bumper sticker: "I'm tickled pink by Bernie" -- Although I don't know how the post-dial-up-modem crowd might misinterpret that?

foghorn longhorn , March 6, 2020 at 2:56 pm

This is such bs.
Trump insulted the f*ck out of mccain, mittens, jeb, cruz, pelosi, schumer and the rest of the clown posse and what did they do?

Passed every gd thing he sent to them.

Are we gonna fight or dance, it's past time to get it on.

Zagonostra , March 6, 2020 at 6:01 pm

"I admittedly don't even know what to call Pelosi and Schumer at this point, besides a simple "past their sell date".

How about corrupt, immoral dishonest, greedy, sociopaths for starters (for more accurate adjectives I recommend viewing Jimmy Dore)

Glen , March 6, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Bernie cannot say it, but I can.

I support Bernie because Bernie supports the polices I think we need to save the country: M4A, GND,$15/hr min, free college, etc. To me, being an FDR Dem like Bernie is the moderate position, we've done it before, we know it works. Biden's support of neoliberal polices that have wrecked America is the extreme position.

But the DNC does not support FDR's Democracy. They have ended up to the right of Ronald Reagan. Pelosi could have pushed a M4A bill but did not. Pelosi could have pushed any number of polices to show how Trump is failing the working and middle class, but she did not.

So if Bernie is not picked for the general, I no longer have a reason to support the Dems, and will stay home. Actually, I will probably not stay home, I will work to get Dems out of office, and in general, work to burn the party to the ground. Why? Because it is in the way, and does not support the working class or the middle class.

The Dem party has to decide – do they really support the working and middle class or not. Because only Bernie supports those polices, and the rest of the Dems running for President do not.

[Mar 06, 2020] Warren presidential campaign postmortem

Notable quotes:
"... The Pow Wow Chow Native American Cookbook ..."
Mar 06, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

. In the spirit of charity, we should give credit where it's due: Warren really did become the " unity candidate " that she always proclaimed herself to be. She displayed an astounding capacity to bring together a polarized country around their shared distaste for her candidacy.

Compiling a complete discography of Warren's detractors would be an impossible feat, but for the sake of partisan schadenfreude, we should briefly revisit the greatest hits. These include the Native American tribal leaders who weren't particularly fond of a wealthy white Harvard professor claiming their ethnicity for personal gain (even co-authoring a cooking guide titled The Pow Wow Chow Native American Cookbook ), the Bernie Sanders supporters infuriated by Warren's cynical attempts to paint their candidate as a woman-hating misogynist, police unions offended by Warren's open dishonesty about violence in law enforcement, religious conservatives who found her contemptuous dismissal of anyone with traditionalist views of sexual morality to be in profoundly bad taste, and pro-lifers (who still comprise 34 percent of the Democratic electorate ) for whom Warren's radically pro-abortion policy objectives were unconscionable.

It's worth noting, of course, that this is just a small slice of the groups that found Warren enormously unlikeable. The senator's casual-at-best relationship with the truth ( listing herself as as "woman of color" in Harvard's faculty listing, claiming that she was fired from a teaching position for being pregnant, refusing to admit that her various spending plans would require raising taxes on the middle class, and so on) probably didn't help. And shockingly, her painfully contrived attempts at catering to the woke activist base (vocal support for reparations, pledging to let a transgender child pick her secretary of education, endorsing affirmative action for non-binary people) paired with her technocratically manicured professorial wonkiness -- she's got a plan for that! -- never caught fire in the blue-collar neighborhoods in the Midwest and South.

... ... ...

Senator Warren, we hardly knew ye.

Nate Hochman is an undergraduate student at Colorado College and a Young Voices contributor. You can follow him at Twitter @njhochman .

[Mar 05, 2020] Warren as Biden's Trojan horse

Notable quotes:
"... She can attack him from "the left" if she's on the debate stage. I've always thought she's in cahoots with Biden. We'll see soon. ..."
"... poor showing in the first 3 contests made it clear she had no substantial and broad enough base. ..."
Mar 05, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@wokkamile

She can attack him from "the left" if she's on the debate stage. I've always thought she's in cahoots with Biden. We'll see soon.

wokkamile on Wed, 03/04/2020 - 11:23am

She already hurt Bernie

@Wally by not dropping out and endorsing him b/f ST, after poor showing in the first 3 contests made it clear she had no substantial and broad enough base.

My sense this morning is that Bernie might need her to get the nomination, and Biden might need her as VP to win the election.

[Mar 05, 2020] Season of the Switch Dissident Voice

Notable quotes:
"... If you are holding out hope that Bernie can slay the dragon of the existing system at its belladonna roots, then be my guest. I see too many people spending their hope on Elizabeth Warren, which will only serve to suck power away from Bernie, who is the ONLY Democratic candidate movie that has the potential to actually INSPIRE voters, just as Trump does. Bernie deserves credit too for actually CHANGING the nature of the campaign conversation and who just MIGHT even begin to change it at the national level, assuming that time, tide and tyranny allow him four years safe passage to reach his pending retirement. ..."
"... In any case, after a year of endless media barrage, it is rather late now for the gods to intervene. All I would hope is that a few more of us can open our eyes to see past the silly "lesser of two evils" and "#votebluenomatterwho" memes, to the reality of how every one of these candidates serve as puppets to SOME specific mix of master control forces and thus make our choice in THAT more realistic light, rather than thinking that any of them offer "real" independent solutions or that any of their "heroic" feet are NOT already embedded knee, waist or neck-deep in the Big Muddy river of our dissolute illusions of Democracy. ..."
Mar 05, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org

Season of the Switch

Revising History Before It Happens

by Mark Petrakis / March 3rd, 2020

As people march off to the polls today to pick their favorite political actor of the year, I hear precious few voices openly asking what seem to me to be obvious questions, like WHO produced the movie that is their candidacy? Who directed it? Who wrote the script? Who are the investors that will be expecting to see returns on their investment, if their movie and their best actor should somehow win? And how far do the networks of wealth, influence and control extend beyond those public faces inside the campaign? None of these questions strike me as tangential; rather they are all essential.

Let's imagine for a moment that one of these actors can somehow out-thespian Trump once on stage which is HIGHLY unlikely – even for folksy Bernie – UNLESS he can somehow win himself 100% DNC buy-in and 24/7 mainstream "BLUE" media support. But assuming that he (or some "brokered" candidate) wins, it will still be their production teams (along with their extended networks) who will be making their presence felt on Day One of any new presidency. These are the people who will be calling in the favors and calling the shots.

I recall how moved I was by Obama's 2008 election. I was buoyed with hope, because I did not understand then what I understand now – that NO candidate can exist as an independent entity, disconnected from the apparatus and networks that support and produce the narratives that advance them and their agendas. I also recall the day that Obama entered the White House and instantly handed the keys to the economy (and the recovery) back to Geithner, Summers and Rubin – the same trio that had helped destroy it just a year earlier. And he did this at the same moment he was filling his cabinet with the very people "suggested" in that famous leaked letter from the CEO of Citibank. My hope departed in genie smoke at that moment, to be followed by eight years of spineless smooth talk and wobbly action, except where the agendas of Wall Street and pompous Empire were concerned.

Do you see how this works? The game is essentially rigged from the start by virtue of who is allowed to enter the race, what can and what can't be said by them and by who the media is told to shine their light on, and who to avoid. Candidates can, of course, say pretty much anything they want (short of "Building 7, WTF!!" of course) in hopes it will spark a reaction that the media can seize upon.

But just based on words, we know that NONE of these happy belief clowns will forcefully oppose existing "Regime Change" plans for Venezuela, Bolivia and Syria. We know that NONE of them will stand up to Israel – or to a Congress that is, almost to a person, in the pocket of Israel. We know too that NONE of them will bring more than an angry flyswatter to the battle with Wall Street or the corporations. We further know that NONE of them will do more than make modest cuts to military spending or god forbid, call out the secret state's fiscally unaccountable black budget operations, which by now reach into at least the 30 trillions.

Personally, I'm not FOR any candidate simply because I cannot UNSEE what it has taken me 12 years to get into focus; namely, how everyone of them are compromised by a SYSTEM that talks a lot about FIXING what's broken, but which is simply INCAPABLE of delivering anything other than what has been pre-ordained and decreed by the global order of oligarchs, which exists as the "ghost in the machine" that ultimately controls every part of the political "STATE" – at high, middle, low and especially at DEEP levels.

I will say in defense of Bernie that his production team early-on made the very unique decision to crowd-source the campaign's costs. That was a PROFOUND decision, which has paid off for him and which may well buy him a certain level of lubricated control over what is to come, even though the significance of that decision is not well appreciated because the DNC and the MSM simply refuse to discuss it in any depth.

Warren was TRYING to play the populist "people's campaign" game too, until last week when she must have been startled awake by the "Ghost of Reagan's Past" and decided to take the money and run as a Hillary proxy which (big surprise) was what she was all along anyway.

Let me just say this about Joe Biden. From his initial announcement, I never felt he was in his right mind. He seems rather to be teetering on the edge of senility and fast on his way into dementia. Also, the man has openly sold his soul so many times in his career that we shouldn't at this point expect any unbought (or even lucid) thought to ever again escape his remarkably loose lips. Joe might have run with the old skool Dems when he was a big deal on the Delaware streets, but now, like Bloomberg and Romney, he's just another Republican in a pricey blue suit.

I understand how people are feeling stressed, obsessed and desperate to get rid of Donald Trump. It's just that until we take a collective step back and see things at the level from which they actually operate and NOT at the level from which we are TOLD they operate, then we will never be successful in turning our public discourse around or in beginning to identify and eliminate the fascist and anti-human agendas that we associate with Trump, but which actually lie behind the subservient to power policies and preferences of BOTH parties.

If you are holding out hope that Bernie can slay the dragon of the existing system at its belladonna roots, then be my guest. I see too many people spending their hope on Elizabeth Warren, which will only serve to suck power away from Bernie, who is the ONLY Democratic candidate movie that has the potential to actually INSPIRE voters, just as Trump does. Bernie deserves credit too for actually CHANGING the nature of the campaign conversation and who just MIGHT even begin to change it at the national level, assuming that time, tide and tyranny allow him four years safe passage to reach his pending retirement.

In any case, after a year of endless media barrage, it is rather late now for the gods to intervene. All I would hope is that a few more of us can open our eyes to see past the silly "lesser of two evils" and "#votebluenomatterwho" memes, to the reality of how every one of these candidates serve as puppets to SOME specific mix of master control forces and thus make our choice in THAT more realistic light, rather than thinking that any of them offer "real" independent solutions or that any of their "heroic" feet are NOT already embedded knee, waist or neck-deep in the Big Muddy river of our dissolute illusions of Democracy.

– Yet Another Useful Idiot.

Mark Petrakis is a long-time theater, event and media producer based in San Francisco. He first broke molds with his Cobra Lounge vaudeville shows of the 90's, hosted by his alter-ego, Spoonman. Concurrently, he took to tech when the scent was still utopian, building the first official websites for Burning Man, the Residents and multiple other local arts groups of the era. He worked as a consultant to a variety of corps and orgs, including 10 years with the Institute for the Future. He is co-founder of both long-running Anon Salon monthly gatherings and Sea of Dream NYE spectacles. Read other articles by Mark .

This article was posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 at 8:34pm and is filed under Barack Obama , Bernie Sanders , Deep State , Democrats , Donald Trump , Elections , Joe Biden , Presidential Debates , United States .

[Mar 04, 2020] Donna Brazile who among other things gave Hillary the question for presidential debate in advance just told the @GOPChairwoman to "go to hell" for suggesting that the Democratic establishment was once again worked to manipulate a nominee into frontrunner status

Mar 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Former DNC chairman who gave Hillary Clinton debate questions in advance during the 2016 election, exclaimed on Fox News that Biden's victory was "the most impressive 72 hours I've ever seen in U.S. politics," and told another analyst to " go to hell " for suggesting that the Democratic establishment was once again working to manipulate a nominee into frontrunner status.

The Democrats are in chaos and melting down on live TV.

Donna Brazile just told the @GOPChairwoman to "go to hell" when asked about the chaos.

Best of luck, Donna! Meanwhile, Republicans are more unified than ever! pic.twitter.com/hCwotuF9tx

-- Trump War Room - Text EMPOWER to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) March 3, 2020

[Mar 04, 2020] From now on Warren is a Biden's Trojan horse. Warren staying in through Super Tuesday certainly hurt Sanders, while disappearance of Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Steyer helped Biden; that smells like the return of the smoke fills room deals

The art of backstabbing, textbook example...
Mar 04, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

... Although it cannot be assumed that all her voters would have gravitated to Sanders, certainly some would have, and with an extra ten points Bernie would have won some states he lost. If she departs after coming in third in her home state, that will help Sanders going forward.

Sanders performed well below the polling. Polls had him competitive in Virginia, where he was crushed by Biden. Polls showed him winning Texas, whereas that turned into a close race.

[Mar 04, 2020] May the Best Man Win

Mar 04, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

Cant Stop the M... on Wed, 03/04/2020 - 8:28am We base our entire politics on the idea that we're living in a meritocracy. In other words, like the knights of old at a joust, we find out who is best through competition, a competition assumed to be both fair and honest. In the old days, the joust was assumed to be fair and honest because God was both omnipotent and just and therefore, obviously, would not allow a bad man to win. Nowadays, even most of us who believe in God don't believe that God controls the outcome of competitions in that way. Yet the assumption of a fair and honest competition persists, despite blatant evidence to the contrary.

In the case of U.S. elections, it is assumed, not that the will of God controls the outcome of competitions, but that the will of the people does. Voter suppression and election fraud are hand-waved away on the dubious grounds that any candidate strong enough could overcome such things. Or maybe the people are to blame. The supporters of the defeated candidate must not have worked hard enough, or maybe the people generally are to blame for not voting in large enough numbers. Those who challenge any of these assumptions are defeated, either by institutional inertia or by gaslighting.

Nothing happens, so nothing happened

Here's what I mean by institutional inertia.

In 2000, there was ample evidence that George W. Bush had committed fraud in the presidential election, with the help of his brother, the governor of Florida. In 2004, there was ample evidence that George W. Bush had committed fraud once again, famously in Ohio, and less famously in Florida for a second time. However, in the first case, Gore stopped fighting after an obviously partisan and corrupt Supreme Court decision, and not a single member of the U.S. Senate was willing to help the Congressional Black Caucus challenge the election. In the second case, Kerry refused to challenge the election in Congress, and the legal case he brought about election fraud, after the fact, did not even make it to the Supreme Court.

In 2016, when New Yorkers brought a case that there had been election fraud and voter suppression in the Democratic primaries, the case was thrown out on the grounds that each county in New York had to file such cases separately, and, by then, the election would be over. Pleas to delay the vote count, or to delay declaring a winner, until the voting rights of the people could be secured, were brushed aside. Much later, when a civil lawsuit was brought against the DNC, the case was once again thrown out for lack of standing, but not before the DNC lawyers had defended their client on the grounds that the DNC didn't have to provide a fair competition, or any competition at all, really, and certainly didn't have to care what the people thought.

The effect of this institutional inertia is not simply that cheaters win the day, or that the people, whose will is being suppressed, lose morale and give up. The complaint itself begins to fade from people's minds. People begin to make excuses for what happened, to justify it, to act as if there never were cheating to begin with. Even many of those who dissent find that, over time, the injustice they remember mellows: no less a person than Jimmy Dore, hardly a weak-minded hack for the establishment, talks now about Gore's "loss" in 2000 as an evil caused by the electoral college. While the electoral college is obviously a tool for elites to control American politics (and never has that been so obvious as over the past two election cycles), such a narrative ignores and erases the police checkpoints that were set up in 2000 near predominantly African American polling places in Leon county, Florida. It ignores the Republican Speaker of the House, Tom DeLay, sending Republican staffers to Dade County to break up Miami's vote count by marching into the Supervisor of Elections office and screaming at the top of their lungs so that no accurate count could take place. It ignores and erases the digital Jim Crow that purged the voter lists of African American Democrats by claiming, falsely, that they were felons. It ignores the fact that emails between the State of Florida and the company that created the Jim Crow software revealed that the company had warned that their software would draw too many false positives, and that the State of Florida had replied "That's just what we want."

Similarly, the DNC's perfidy in 2016 has been reduced to the following: 1) that they had pre-selected their candidate, and didn't provide a real or fair competition, 2) that they gave debate questions ahead of time to Hillary Clinton, 3)that they used the electoral college, most particularly superdelegates, to overwhelm the Sanders movement, and that 4) the party primaries were often closed, not allowing independents the right to vote. Left out, or forgotten, are the multiple polling places closed in states from Arizona to New York (in New York, sometimes even the open polling places had no staff or broken machines), the media calling California for Clinton before the votes were counted, the 136,000 voters purged off Brooklyn's voter rolls (no doubt because Bernie Sanders was born and grew up in Brooklyn and that might have given him an advantage there), and the much larger multi-state purge of the Democratic party through changing people's voter registration without their knowledge and consent.

I'm not bringing this up to attack Jimmy Dore, who is one of the most reliable truth-tellers in the media today, but rather to point out what people's minds do under the stress of watching the establishment normalize corruption again and again. If there is no power to challenge institutional corruption, most people, over time, make of the corruption something less unjust and outrageous. Simply smothering objections to injustice with institutional inertia, will, over time, allow the victors to erase the evidence of their crime.

Sore Loserman

Since we believe, with the faith of fanatics, that competition must be honest and fair, it's easy to gaslight the losers (or the apparent losers). The Republicans in 2000 did not need to disprove the fact that George W. Bush had committed fraud and contravened the will of the people when he climbed up a staircase of disenfranchised Black faces to become President. All the Republicans needed to do was issue tens of thousands of bumper stickers that replaced the words "Gore/Lieberman" with "Sore Loserman." The RNC was using the same argument that was bruited about in the 1980s about poverty and employment. Unemployed poor people had lost the economic competition. Therefore, there must be something wrong with them. Maybe they weren't educated enough, smart enough, clean enough, hard-working enough; maybe they were people of bad character. Bloomberg's racial profiling worked much the same way. Black people are losers in the judicial game because they commit more crimes. That's why we put more police in their neighborhoods, because there are more criminals among young Black men than anywhere else. Corruption can't bring down a meritorious man. If you're good, you'll win. If you complain about cheating or any other form of injustice, you must be a Sore Loserman, attempting to cover up your own inadequacies by whining.

It's pretty obvious that this way of thinking makes it literally impossible to stop even the most outrageous injustice, as long as the perpetrators of that injustice have enough power to spread their "Sore Loser" messaging far and wide. So if I commit identity theft today and access one of your bank accounts, I can be brought to account. But if Wall St cheats homeowners, there was probably something wrong with the homeowners, or with the government for suggesting that those homeowners should get loans. If George W. Bush cheats in an election, there was probably something wrong with the other candidate, or with the voters.

People tend to get upset when I bring this up, because they think that talking about the corruption of the system will demoralize voters, making such discussions their own form of voter suppression. But I bring this up because the worst damage that can come out of Bernie Sanders losing contests in a highly compromised electoral process is that the idea of meritocracy be preserved. There are valid reasons for voting even in a corrupted system (of the "make 'em sweat" variety). There are valid reasons for not voting in a corrupted system. But whatever a citizen chooses to do on Election Day, the idea of meritocracy must die.

Despite all the truly horrendous policies, from both the Democrats and the Republicans, that have laid our society, our people, and the world to waste, the most poisonous effect of the tyranny we live under is its fraudulence: its pretense of being a fair, accurate, and reasonable expression of the will of the people. Even the Democrats' attacks on Trump, who is supposed to be a Manchurian candidate placed in office by Russian intelligence operatives and an existential threat to our democracy, have, in the past two years, increasingly focused on the people who support Trump. It's the voters fault for supporting the bad man. So even when we are supposedly in a situation of foreign powers changing the outcome of a presidential election, it's still the people's fault. Why? Well, there was a competition, and somebody won, so the person who won must be there by the will of the people. It has to be the people's fault.

Corruption among the powerful isn't a thing.

System-wide corruption in all the various infrastructures of our country, especially the political ones, isn't a thing.

Or, if it is, you just didn't do enough lifting at the political gym to be able to fend it off.

[Mar 04, 2020] Warren was the henchwoman of the right-wing takeover to destroy the left-wing curriculum a the University of Pennsylvania

Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , Mar 3 2020 8:00 utc | 107

Philosopher Drucilla Cornell on Elizabeth Warren at the University of Pennsylvania (vid, 3:21):
I knew Elizabeth Warren when I was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She was a right-wing Reaganite. And the University of Pennsylvania had the most progressive law school curriculum in the country. And this is Elizabeth Warren.

And I taught a first year class called income security. Elizabeth Warren said "there is no more ridiculous idea than national healthcare". That's the Elizabeth Warren I knew. She was in her 30s at this time.

She was the henchwoman of the right-wing takeover to destroy the left-wing curriculum. I taught Worker's Rights, I taught the National Labor Rights Act, which doesn't exist anymore, for the most part, it's not taught in any law school in the United States, I taught Income Security, and I taught Jurisprudence. Elizabeth was against all those things. I don't really know Elizabeth Warren personally, I just know her as a right-wing Republican. And somehow or another, God came out of the heavens and turned her into a Democrat, probably at the very moment that Derrick Bell stepped down from Harvard because he would not work anymore until they hired an African-American woman.

Now she couldn't pretend she was Black, so she pretended she was African. She was Native American. That's not what we call people who are Native Americans, because they're First Nations people. Apaches and Cherokees were nations. There's no such thing as a Native American. Elizabeth checked that box just as Derrick Bell was stepping down. She goes to Massachusetts and she becomes a Democrat.

There is no more [of a] relentless, ruthless, nihilist that I have ever met in my entire life. Not Elizabeth Warren. She's right up there with Donald Trump. So I can't really support her. She did succeed in destroying that progressive curriculum. And that progressive curriculum is, you know, it's one of those life things that you hold onto, right? So I don't trust Elizabeth Warren as far as I can throw her.

She has no policy, she doesn't understand imperialism, and she has said she's a capitalist. What she really is is a technocrat who clawed her way to Harvard. I mean, that's where you want to end up, right? If you're a law professor, you want to be at Harvard. Ok, she did that. She succeeded.

But as President of the United States I wouldn't even dream of supporting her. Because Bernie Sanders, whatever you think of him, like me, was chaining himself to schools to [de]segregate them. Was protesting against the Vietnam war. There are people who have held onto values for a lifetime, and those, Slavoj, are the people I trust.

Russ , Mar 3 2020 8:22 utc | 109

S 124

Presumably Sanders always has known about Warren's record (it's never been obscure for anyone who took a few minutes to look; years ago when I focused on Wall Street and participated at the econoblogs I always knew she was a fraud), yet he's always helped propagate the fraud that she's some kind of "progressive". Same as he's always lied about Russiagate (he certainly knows it's a lie).

So according to the party line, Sanders wanted Warren to run in 2016 and only ran himself after she demurred. This can only mean he preferred for her to act as the sheepdog for Hillary, since he certainly knew she was no "progressive".

[Mar 04, 2020] Trump Slams 'SPOILER' Elizabeth Warren For Sinking Sanders

A pretty sharp political thinking from the President
Mar 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The Democrat establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders, AGAIN! Even the fact that Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race was devastating to Bernie and allowed Sleepy Joe to unthinkably win Massachusetts. It was a perfect storm, with many good states remaining for Joe!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

20 minutes later, Trump tweeted that it was " So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race ," as she has "Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly."

"So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!"

So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race. She has Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly. So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

Three hours later, Trump tweeted: " Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas , not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER! "

Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

[Mar 04, 2020] Warren is a Reagan Republican, a neoliberal. She only switched in the middle of the 1990s when she was 47 and the GOP had gone so far off the deep end that Clinton's center-right New Democrats better represented her neoliberal views.

Notable quotes:
"... On Sanders etc I just read this excellent piece at Greanville Post . Dated March 2. ..."
Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Benjamin , Mar 4 2020 3:04 utc | 100

@94

Warren is a Reagan Republican. She was a Republican until she was 47 years old, which means she lived through the Reagan years thinking 'this is fine'. She only switched in the middle of the 1990s when the GOP had gone so far off the deep end that Clinton's center-right New Democrats better represented her Reaganite views. She claims it was because of abuse by banks, which doesn't make sense, since by that point it was the Democrats leading the charge on bank deregulation.

She isn't a leftist, by any definition.

She built a reputation because of the very narrow range of finance issues she's actually good on (the CFPB is the cornerstone of her entire progressive reputation). And in this election she hasn't been a candidate of the left. She's run on the veneer that she is, but like a snake she's been shedding that pretense over time, backing away from any and every progressive policy position. Her base is white suburbanite professionals, especially women who want to see one of their own be president.

The Warren-Sanders divide perfectly illustrates everything Marx ever wrote about the dangers of Liberals. They aren't the Left's friend. When the revolution comes, they'll be the first to be shot.

uncle tungsten , Mar 4 2020 3:07 utc | 101

Warren is a detestable, lying, hypocrite and probably a scumbag to boot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvdrkSUVn70

Jimmy Dore and Stef Zamorano do a great job here.

S , Mar 4 2020 3:56 utc | 108
@uncle tungsten #100:
Warren is a detestable, lying, hypocrite and probably a scumbag to boot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvdrkSUVn70

A scumbag or a Sumerian bag?

S , Mar 4 2020 4:02 utc | 109
Jokes aside, here's the correct link to the latest The Jimmy Dore Show episode on Warren: Chris Hayes Calls Out Warren On Super-Pac B.S.
Sunny Runny Burger , Mar 4 2020 4:25 utc | 116
Benjamin: Ronald Reagan famously used to be a Democrat, lots of people forget that. He went Republican in 1962.

Lots of people also don't know or realize how extremely likeable Reagan was as a person when he was young, much more so for most people than Kennedy ever was or could ever be (the Kennedy family was/is as nasty as any).

I got this link a few US election ago, Reagan was still a Democrat at this point in time: "What's My Line - Ronald Reagan (1953)" , it's only three and a half minutes long.

Circe , Mar 4 2020 5:00 utc | 121
Elizabeth Warren really hurt Sanders tonight and she's getting no delegates cause her percentages are under 15% (except in her own state that she's losing IN 3RD PLACE)! If she had gotten out of the race Bernie would be sweeping everything for Progressives!

It's like Warren took a sledgehammer to the Progressive Movement and said: If I can't lead it to the White House, then neither will YOU Bernie Sanders!

That's how selfish she was this week.

Thank goodness Sanders might still be able to get a majority, because BIDEN IS THE TITANIC. Biden cannot be the Nominee, he's a walking disaster and Trump will crush him!

Ugh. What a stupid Party.

uncle tungsten , Mar 4 2020 9:51 utc | 153
S #107
A scumbag or a Sumerian bag?

Thats a good one. The anunaki wouldn't even shit on Warren. The ancient south American Indians would have found a fitting sacrifice for her type of lying, sleaze.

I have seen that video and watch most of his posts as he has a sharp enquiring mind. Most importantly he is comfortable to be challenged.

I discovered Robert Temple and the science of geopolymers through one of his references.

On Sanders etc I just read this excellent piece at Greanville Post . Dated March 2.

[Mar 04, 2020] I just can't be sympathetic with Bernie and his voters tonight. Remember how Bernie came out to support Tulsi Gabbard when she was having such a hard time with the establishment? Neither do I

Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

SharonM , Mar 4 2020 3:34 utc | 104

I just can't be sympathetic with Bernie and his voters tonight. Remember how Bernie came out to support Tulsi Gabbard when she was having such a hard time with the establishment? Neither do I. Remember how Bernie's supporters made sure Bernie would speak the truth about russiagate, or they weren't going to support him? Neither do I. Remember how Bernie made it clear in every debate and every interview that the choice is endless war or medicare for all? He didn't. Watching someone with a few leftist atoms in him being defeated in State after State by a warmongering sociopath who belongs in a hospice with bars on the windows, is like watching what he deserves.

Jackrabbit , Mar 4 2020 6:10 utc | 129

Copeland @122
People who casually tell you that Bernie is for the Empire--and not for the repair of society-- are people trafficking in lies.
I encourage everyone to look at Bernie with a critical eye and decide for yourself. Anyone in political life for any length of time (like Bernie) must know that USA is EMPIRE-FIRST. Empire priorities (military and intelligence focus; 'weaponized' liberalism; neoliberal graft; dollar hegemony; Jihadis as a proxy army; etc.) dictate the limits of domestic politics.

Bernie's quixotic insurgency was doomed to fail unless Bernie attacked the Democratic Party's connection to Empire and use of identity politics to divide and conquer. Oh, and Bernie would have to threaten to leave the Democratic Party -- but then would become the independent Movement that Bernie and the Democratic Party have tried so hard to prevent!

!!

[Mar 04, 2020] US national politics is gang warfare. The Crips vs. the Bloods. Two criminal enterprises with roughly the same aims and tactics, fighting for turf

Notable quotes:
"... US national politics is gang warfare. The Crips vs. the Bloods. Two criminal enterprises with roughly the same aims and tactics, fighting for turf. With minor differences of style. Trump upsets the leadership of the Bloods in 2016, but it turns out that, outrageous as he is, he is good for business, so all the Bloods but the wimps with a weak stomach fall in behind him. ..."
"... But let's just suppose that the old Crips are not quite as pathetic as they look. Let's imagine that they actually learned something in 2016. It was supposed to be easy for them in 2016, and they were surprised. So they have had four years to hone their election-stealing skills. And most of the traditional election stealing organizations in this country seem largely to hate Trump. ..."
"... So let's posit that the FBI & CIA, or whoever it is manages to prop up Biden, and succeed in stealing the election for him. Who would object to that? ..."
"... Not two gangs but one Deep State political mafia with two families running a protection racket (MIC), prostitution (media propaganda, psyops), drugs (industry incentives), and gambling (overseas adventurism) ..."
Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Eric in Kansas , Mar 4 2020 5:00 utc | 122

Okay, here's a little speculative fiction.

The setup: US national politics is gang warfare. The Crips vs. the Bloods. Two criminal enterprises with roughly the same aims and tactics, fighting for turf. With minor differences of style. Trump upsets the leadership of the Bloods in 2016, but it turns out that, outrageous as he is, he is good for business, so all the Bloods but the wimps with a weak stomach fall in behind him.

The Crips are bloated and in decline. A bunch of naïve, starry eyed nobodies mount a campaign to take the Crips legit. The old Crips are irritated that they have to take time out from grifting so as to squash the upstart pests.

That is where I see us today. But let's just suppose that the old Crips are not quite as pathetic as they look. Let's imagine that they actually learned something in 2016. It was supposed to be easy for them in 2016, and they were surprised. So they have had four years to hone their election-stealing skills. And most of the traditional election stealing organizations in this country seem largely to hate Trump.

So let's posit that the FBI & CIA, or whoever it is manages to prop up Biden, and succeed in stealing the election for him. Who would object to that?

Yes, exactly – all the Trump die-hards, and 'tribal' gang bangers would object. It could get really nasty.

And so far, I have not seen any evidence that any of the characters that would be willing to play such a gambit have any inclination to give a shit for the consequences for us little people.

Jackrabbit , Mar 4 2020 5:23 utc | 125

Eric in Kansas @121: gang warfare

Not two gangs but one Deep State political mafia with two families running a protection racket (MIC), prostitution (media propaganda, psyops), drugs (industry incentives), and gambling (overseas adventurism)...

... aka "Tammany on the Potomac."

Wikipedia describes Tammany as :

The Tammany Society emerged as the center for Democratic-Republican Party politics in the city in the early 19th century. After 1854, the Society expanded its political control even further by earning the loyalty of the city's rapidly expanding immigrant community, which functioned as its base of political capital. The business community appreciated its readiness, at moderate cost, to cut through red tape and legislative mazes to facilitate rapid economic growth... Tammany Hall also served as an engine for graft and political corruption, perhaps most infamously under William M. "Boss" Tweed in the mid-19th century....

[Tweed's biographer wrote:]

It's hard not to admire the skill behind Tweed's system ... The Tweed ring at its height was an engineering marvel, strong and solid, strategically deployed to control key power points: the courts, the legislature, the treasury and the ballot box. Its frauds had a grandeur of scale and an elegance of structure: money-laundering, profit sharing and organization.

!!

kiwiklown , Mar 4 2020 8:32 utc | 141
trailertrash @6 --- Americans have been railroaded into endless squabbling about voting and democracy instead of demanding good governance. How does choosing between two similarly corrupt parties deliver good governance?

Voting in the lesser evil is still choosing evil.

What does it profit a nation to have voting every 4 years when excrement covers her sidewalks? and vets suicide themselves daily? and soldiers get raped daily by fellow soldiers?

[Mar 03, 2020] Elizabeth Warren's Foreign Policy Team is Stacked With neocons which would also shine in Hillary team

Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

AntiSpin , Mar 3 2020 21:09 utc | 51

For everyone puzzling over Warren's actions and intentions, this should help -- a lot.

Woke Wonk Elizabeth Warren's Foreign Policy Team is Stacked With Pro-War Swamp Creatures
Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal – 2-26-20

"With her new list of foreign policy advisors, Warren unveiled a cast of pro-war think tankers, Cold Warriors and corporate careerists united in support of the Beltway consensus. So much for 'big, structural change'."

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/01/26/elizabeth-warren-foreign-policy-team-pro-war-regime-change/

[Mar 03, 2020] Why is Tulsi Gabbard Still In The Race by Pam Ho

Notable quotes:
"... Biden and Warren are both enthusiastic supporters of neocon foreign policy which is in line with their phony support for the working class. What happened to Warren's glittering M4A plan? It turned back into a pumpkin didn't it? It was all smoke and mirrors. No surprise if you know her history. ..."
"... Imperial Borg Assimilation ..."
"... The Foreign Policy Establishment ..."
"... Warren is an establishment social climber. She took off the mask and her true colors shone through when she viciously attacked Bernie Sanders as a misogynist. Yet still many people surrounding the Sander's campaign support Warren. Why is that? Big money on the left supports her, that's why. That big money also pays a lot of salaries in the liberal political job market. Have you heard of the The Democracy Alliance ? ..."
"... Why do so many liberals or even progressives dislike Tulsi and are so eager to see her gone? Propaganda from the media. The media for a year has relentlessly promoted Red Baiting towards Tulsi because Tulsi challenges the "Washington Consensus" (unfettered elite rule over America and the world with an iron fist). ..."
"... Everyone in the pro-Israel lobby (myself included) is already talking about how to make sure that Tulsi Gabbard's campaign is over before it even gets off the ground -- If you're going to bet on a Dem candidate, look elsewhere. ..."
"... There are many reasons behind that. The main reason though is Tulsi trying to stop war. The Neocons and Saudis have been pushing American politicians, celebrities, media owners, think tanks, foundations and so on for years -- to destroy Syria. Supposedly because Syria is close allies with Iran. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | medium.com

As I was checking the news earlier today I noticed that the coronavirus had killed another top government official in Iran, bringing the total to 3. Or at least the 3 they have released info on. There's a chance it's worse among the Iranian leadership but they don't want to cause a panic. I checked the Twitterverse after that for my daily dose of madness and surprisingly kept seeing people ask rhetorically:

Why is Tulsi Gabbard still in the primary race?

Turns out that Amy "She Hulk" Klobuchar had dropped out of the primary race apparently to suck up to Joe Biden for a VP slot. And so had Pete "Honestly I'm Not Annoying" Buttigigieididisjjd. This of course should surprise no one since the threat of Bernie Sanders to the financial criminal syndicates greasing the palms of practically all politicians and media to do their bidding have seen the writing on the wall. They realize they need candidates to drop out in order to coalesce centrist votes around one or two to stop what they perceive to be a huge problem for them in Bernie Sanders.

... ... ...

Biden and Warren are both enthusiastic supporters of neocon foreign policy which is in line with their phony support for the working class. What happened to Warren's glittering M4A plan? It turned back into a pumpkin didn't it? It was all smoke and mirrors. No surprise if you know her history. Did you see her on Pod Save America regaling us with how much she believes in crippling countries by sanctions if they dare to resist the racist Imperial Borg Assimilation Machine aka The Foreign Policy Establishment ? That doesn't sound woke to me Miss Thang .

https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FC79AV_22NPg%3Ffeature%3Doembed&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DC79AV_22NPg&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FC79AV_22NPg%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube

Warren is an establishment social climber. She took off the mask and her true colors shone through when she viciously attacked Bernie Sanders as a misogynist. Yet still many people surrounding the Sander's campaign support Warren. Why is that? Big money on the left supports her, that's why. That big money also pays a lot of salaries in the liberal political job market. Have you heard of the The Democracy Alliance ?

The Democracy Alliance is a semi-anonymous donor network funded primarily by none other than Democratic mega-donor George Soros. Since its inception in 2005, it is estimated the Alliance has injected over $500 million to Democratic causes. While it isn't typical that they would endorse a candidate outright, they focus more on formulating a catalog of organizations and PACs that they recommend the network of about 100 or so millionaires and billionaires invest in. Democracy Alliance almost literally have their hands in every major left-leaning institution you have (and haven't) heard of -- John Podesta and Neera Tanden's Center for American Progress, David Brock's Media Matters, Center for Popular Democracy, Demos (we'll come back to this one), and the Working Families Party. All of these organizations are listed on the Alliance's website as recommended investments for it's members; and invest they do. Here's the rub: Democracy Alliance's membership isn't made entirely public -- but we know enough that alot of the people that have sat in the highest levels of that organization have an affinity for Elizabeth Warren.


... ... ...

Why do so many liberals or even progressives dislike Tulsi and are so eager to see her gone? Propaganda from the media. The media for a year has relentlessly promoted Red Baiting towards Tulsi because Tulsi challenges the "Washington Consensus" (unfettered elite rule over America and the world with an iron fist).

That is why we got this from Jacob Wohl after Tulsi declared her candidacy last year:

Everyone in the pro-Israel lobby (myself included) is already talking about how to make sure that Tulsi Gabbard's campaign is over before it even gets off the ground -- If you're going to bet on a Dem candidate, look elsewhere.

There are many reasons behind that. The main reason though is Tulsi trying to stop war. The Neocons and Saudis have been pushing American politicians, celebrities, media owners, think tanks, foundations and so on for years -- to destroy Syria. Supposedly because Syria is close allies with Iran.

But they are not the only ones who want Syria destroyed. Other reasons may have to do with massive profits at stake. A natural gas survey team from Norway some years ago discovered that Syria has the largest untapped deposits of natural gas in the world . After that secret discovery became known by various powerful people plans were drawn up to split up the profits after the destruction of the Syrian government. But after Syria asked Russia for help that changed their plans.

Tulsi meanwhile kept going on CNN to tell the American people that our government was waging a secret war in Syria by giving advanced weapons to Al-Qaeda in order to help them topple the government. America, Israel , and the Saudis weren't the only ones with a plan for Syria. Turkey and Qatar had their own plans. The UK and other leading EU nations had a plan as well . And the only politician in any of those countries telling the public the truth of what was going on -- was Tulsi.

... ... ...

She is not having our country become a plaything for rich a-holes who use the lives and limbs of service members for their greedy scams. Because of that the idle rich sociopaths ruling America with their political and media henchmen went after Tulsi with a full barrage of lies , media blackouts, and massive amounts of propaganda -- all to stop her message from getting out so they can create a false image of her in people's minds. Everything and anything they can throw at her, they do.

https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FOBArkIbMybU%3Ffeature%3Doembed&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOBArkIbMybU&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FOBArkIbMybU%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube

There are two politicians whom they fear. Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. Which is why Bernie Sanders has unsurprisingly been trying to stay out of the foreign policy debate, or he even goes along with the establishment for the most part. He saw what they unleashed against Tulsi. He knows from long experience that propaganda works on a lot of people. The financial elites are not naive though, they probably believe he is going along with their ridiculous foreign policy as a political strategy -- until he gains more power. They fear that if he gains that power he will, like Tulsi, not go along with their imperial stormtrooper agenda.

[Mar 03, 2020] Super Tuesday Bernie vs The DNC Round Two

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | off-guardian.org

No matter who comes away with the nomination, it has to be asked "was any of this process legitimate?". We know from a plethora of examples that US elections are not fair. They border on meaningless most of the time. The DNC's doubly so, having argued in court they have no duty to be fair.

Any result, then, you could safely assume was contrived, for one reason or another.

If the Buttigieg-Klobuchar-Biden gambit works, we end up with Trump vs. Biden. And, realistically, that means a second Trump term.

Biden is possibly senile and definitely creepy . Watching him shuffle and stutter through a Presidential campaign would be almost cruel.

Politically, he has all of Hillary's weaknesses, being a big-time establishment type with a pro-war record, without even the "I have a vagina" card to play.

He'll get massacred.

Is that the plan?

There's more than enough signs that Trump has abandoned all the policies that made him any kind of threat to the political establishment. Four years on: no wars ended, no walls built, no swamp drained. Just more of the same. He's an idiot who talked big and got co-opted. It happens.

The Senate and other institutions might talk about Trump being a criminal or an idiot or a "Nazi", but the reality is he's barely perceptibly different from any other POTUS this side of JFK.

#TheResistance was a puppet show. A weak game played for toy money. When it really counts, they're all in it together. Biden getting on the ticket would be a public admittance of that. It would mean the DNC is effectively throwing the fight. Trump is a son of a bitch, but he's their son of a bitch. And that's much better than even the idea of President Bernie.

... ... ...

falcemartello ,

Does it really matter?
Empire of kaos will never move one inch to change the status quo.
The quaisi fascist state that most western /antlantacist nations have become it will make no difference
Gianbattista Vico"Their will always be an elite class" Punto e basta.
Name me one politico that made any difference to we the sheeple in the modern era.
If someone were to mention FDR I will scream.
Aldo Moro got murdered by the deep state for only suggesting to make a pact with Berlinguer the head of Il Partito Communista Italiano.

[Mar 03, 2020] "Predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what neoliberalism is.

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Mar 4 2020 0:50 utc | 80

Tonymike | Mar 3 2020 18:08 utc | 26

re ... Your house foreclosed upon by shady bank: naked capitalism, .0001% paid on interest savings: naked capitalism, poor wages: naked capitalism, dangerous workplace: naked capitalism, etc. ...

"naked capitalism" is not a clear description. Consider using "predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what it is.

Here's the Wiki dictionary definition:

Predatory--

1. relating to or denoting an animal or animals preying naturally on others.
synonyms: predacious, carnivorous, hunting, raptorial, ravening;
Example: "predatory birds".

2. seeking to exploit or oppress others.
synonyms: exploitative, wolfish, rapacious, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious
Example: "I could see a predatory gleam in his eyes"

Note where the word comes from:
The Latin "praedator", in English meaning "plunderer".

And "plunderer" helps the reader understand and perhaps recognize what is happening.

Every plunderer understands.

[Mar 01, 2020] The USA have become outright criminal: A Mafia-system ruled by some syndicates

Mar 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Joerg ,

It is an illusion to talk of "the Left" and "the Right" anymore, because the USA have become outright criminal: A Mafia-system ruled by some syndicates.
Think of this enormous sum of 23 (I believe) trillion Dollars missing in the Pentagon. And the House even decided to not research where this money went! To this see https://www.corbettreport.com/interview-1407-mark-skidmore-on-the-pentagons-missing-trillions/

Or think of the Ukraine and Joe and Hunter Biden (and other corrupt persons from the EU). Author Bill Martin mentions this above with :"dirty business in Ukraine".

But its not only about corruption. Now it's also about a murder-attempt -- as every Mafia would never hesitate to execute. And Western media doesn't report this.

This has happened: Because of Joe Biden's quid-pro-quo demand to former Ukrainian president Poroshenko (no billions of Dollars from the US, if Shokin was not fired) state prosecutor Shokin was then fired. But some months ago there had now also been a poison-attack on Shokin.

And now Shokin goes after Joe Biden -- and he must, if he wants to survive!: To this on the site https://youtube.com/channel/UCdeMVChrumySxV9N1w0Au-w There click the video "JOE BIDEN, UKRAINE AND VIKTOR SHOKIN MERCURY POISONING".

[Mar 01, 2020] https://off-guardian.org/2020/02/29/the-trump-impeachment-looking-back-and-looking-forward/

Mar 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Savorywill Yes, I agree completely (though I would have to study the materials more carefully to fully understand it all). It is mentioned that one accomplishment of Trump was his take-down of the Bush dynasty for the lies spun justifying the Iraq war. It was in S. Caroline that Trump did this, in a debate of Republican candidates at the start of the election campaign in 2016. I knew nothing about Trump at the time, having lived in Japan and Australia for many years, never saw the Apprentice or even heard of him. So, when he started snipping at Jeb saying that Jeb's brother George, led America in the biggest mistake in US history by starting the war on Iraq, and the audience started booing, to which Trump replied, 'oh, those are just paid for lobbyists – I don't need them as my campaign is self-funded', it was absolutely astonishing and I could hardly believe my ears, or eyes. Yet, there it was on TV, one of the first debates of the Republican party for their candidate. I then saw that Trump was, indeed, something very different from what we had ever seen in American politics.

I was rapt when he defeated Hillary, and completely surprised as it was so unexpected. It did give me faith in America again, to some degree. Here is the woman who orchestrated the criminal destruction of Libya, and then laughed about the horrific murder of Gaddafi, who was only trying to provide a decent society for Libyan citizens and deal with the madness of the forces around him. What happened to him, and to Libya, was just so heartbreaking, and she thought it was a big joke and tried to do the same in Syria. So, I was thrilled when she got beaten. Not that everything Trump has done since then has met with my approval, but he seems to be winding down the wars as he promised and I don't mind listening to his speeches at the rallies, which I sometimes do watch. I particularly like when he went to a farming area in California and signed a bill enabling local farmers to access water, something they were unable to do because of various regulations. I never heard of any other presidents so hands-on with their involvement with such things and I thought his speech in India, recently, was incredible. I couldn't stand listening to Hillary for any more than a few minutes. Even Obama never really rang true to me. He would say things like 'change we can believe in', or 'hope for more hope', vague platitudes like that that didn't really have many specifics. I can understand Clint Eastwood's speech talking to the empty chair (representing Obama) at the Republican convention in 2012, actually. Obama seems like a media projection, or something. Hard to identify or see him as an actual person.


sharon marlowe ,

"Not that everything Trump has done since then has met with my approval, but he seems to be winding down the wars as he promised"

What is "winding down the wars"? Do mean that you stopped paying attention?

Savorywill ,

Seems like they are winding down, don't you think? Just today I read the the Taliban just signed an agreement to that effect, to finally finish that war going on for nearly 20 years, no closer to success since the start. The US is not overtly involved in the Syrian conflict as well as it seems to be trying to get out of Iraq.

Had Hillary won, she would have gone full bore into Syria and probably would have made matters much, much worse. She is a thorough warmonger, her track record clearly demonstrated that.

sharon marlowe ,

First, an attempted assassination-by-drone on President Maduro of Venezuela happened. Then Trump dropped the largest conventional bomb on Afghanistan, with a mile-wide radius. Then Trump named Juan Guido as the new President of Venezuela in an overt coup. Then he bombed Syria over a fake chemical weapons claim. He bombed it before even an investigation was launched. Then the Trump regime orchestrated a military coup in Bolivia. Then he claimed that he was pulling out of Syria, but instead sent U.S. troops to take over Syrian oil fields. trump then assassinated Gen. Solemeni. Then he claimed that he will leave Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi government asked the U.S. to leave, and Trump rejected the request. The Trump regime has tried orchestrating a coup in Iran, and a coup in Hong Kong. He expelled Russian diplomats en masse for the Skripal incident in England, before an investigation. He has sanctioned Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, and Venezuela. He has bombed Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Those are the things I'm aware of, but what else Trump has done in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America you can research if you wish. And now, the claim of leaving Afghanistan is as ridiculous as when he claimed to be leaving Syria and Iraq.

"winding down the wars" makes no sense.

Antonym ,

Trump just signed a peace pact with the Taliban. As they are basically CIA -ISI irregulars he got the green light from Langley.

He needs this gesture for his re-election campaign.

Savorywill ,

Yes, what you say is right. However, he did warn both the Syrian and Russian military of the attack in the first instance, so no casualties, and in the second attack, he announced that the missiles had been launched before they hit the target, again resulting in no casualties. When the US drone was shot down by an Iranian missile, he considered retaliation. But, when advised of likely casualties, he called it off saying that human lives are more valuable than the cost of the drone. Yes, he did authorize the assassination of the Iranian general, and that was very bad. His claims that the general had organized the placement of roadside bombs that had killed US soldiers rings rather hollow, considering those shouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place.

I am definitely not stating that he is perfect and doesn't do objectionable things. And he has authorized US forces to control the oil wells, which is against international law, but at least US soldiers are not actively engaged in fighting the Syrian government, something Hillary set in motion. However, the military does comprise a huge percentage of the US economy and there have to be reasons, and enemies, to justify its existence, so his situation as president must be very difficult, not a job I would want, that is for sure.

Petra Liverani ,

The assassination (or other means of disappearance) of Soleimani seems to have been a collusion between Trump and Rouhani who wasn't a fan of the guy and the evidence shows that the crash of PS-752 was staged.
https://occamsrazorterrorevents.weebly.com/blog/did-ps-752-crash-in-tehran

I do like this video, Seats and People, by Peekay and Meta-Scriptors

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vftD3hh6Yro?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

sharon marlowe ,

There were at least nine people killed when Trump bombed Douma.

Only a psychopath would kill people because one of its spy drones was shot down. You don't get points for considering killing people for it and then changing your mind.

People should get over Hillary and pay attention to what Trump has been doing. Why even mention what Hillary would have done in Syria, then proceed to be an apologist for what Trump has done around the world in just three years? Trump has been quite a prolific imperialist in such a short time. A second term could well put him above Bush and Obama as the 21st century's most horrible leaders on earth.

Dungroanin ,

Sharon,

Who has done the shit under the Trump Regime (lol Regime! You lot)

Trump – not.
Regime – yes.

Dungroanin ,

Sharon,

Magically? No.

Factually yes.

If you think that the potus is the omnipotent ruler of everything he certainly seems to be having some problems with his minions in the CIA, NSA, FBI..State Dept etc.

The potus is best described (by Assad actually) as a CEO of a board of directors appointed by the shareholders who collectively determine their OWN interests.

Your gaslighting ain't succeeding round here – Regime! So desperate, so so sad 🤣

sharon marlowe ,

Are you seven years old? There's no such thing as omnipotent rulers. I said Trump was the leader of the U.S. regime. That's how it's said in the real world;)

Dungroanin ,

Right – and the regime of which he is the leader of has been trying to usurp him from day one, correct?

So in your world view Trump has been trying to overthrow himself?

That all the Russiagate, Ukrainegate – coupgates in short are all Trump doing it to himself!!!

Who is being childish by conflating all of that?

Koba ,

He's sent more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan he strayed several coups in Latin America and was game for taking on the dprk until they got nukes and wants to bomb Iran! Winding down?!

Dungroanin ,

Yeah yeah and 'he' gave Maduro 7 days to let their kid takeover in Venezuela! And built a wall. And got rid of obamacare and started a nuke war with Rocketman and and and

Dungroanin ,

Savory,

In 2016 Trumps role (whether he fully realised it or not) was to get rid of all the existing Republican candidates that may have stopped Hillary getting her crown.

He and the Clinton family were old friends in NY and he played golf with Bill regularly.

What you haven't identified in what you saw in 2016 is the choreographed pantomime villainy of The Donald during the debates with Hillary.

It was designed for him to lose appeal and keep GOP voters at home.

The reason Hillary lost :

The stitch up of Bernie and his supporters as revealed by the DNC email leaks which kept them from voting for her;

Her failure to campaign effectively being a cold hearted murdering bitch that couldn't empathise with a kitten;

A load of ordinary poorish Americans who got a bit pissed at being labelled 'deplorable' by her.

Simple as that.

Donald was as suprised as anyone to have actually won that night – he had to go chat to the Clintons and say "what the fuck am I supposed to do now? I have a whole load of Apprentice episodes lined up to film, and Hotels & Golf courses to build!"

Obviously he couldn't say it must be a mistake and his friends the Clintons should be allowed back into the White House as planned – that wouldn't have washed – so he ended up in the Oval Office.

As potus he would have to make decisions which no one including the Clintons could force him to do anything HE ultimately didn't want to do. No matter how many of the stooges imposed upon him tried to get away with murder.

He quickly realised there was some nasty goings on that he was supposed to rubberstamp and he rebelled against it at his inauguration speech which gave the establishment a slap across the face as Pres George W Bush quipped to his dad PresGeorge Bush

"That was some weird shit"

And all else followed the yellow brick road to right here, right now.

Good innit?

Antonym ,

The Left has fallen into reactionary insanity

The other main proof for the above: they support Islamism just because the "alt-right" opposes it.

Islamism kicks all the Left's causes in the teeth: equality only for Muslims, as all the others are despicable kaffirs; misogyny to the power of 2; LGTB rights below zero; nothing against shark capitalism in the Koran.

The Iranian Left was massacred in 1988 by the Iranian Islamists.

Dungroanin ,

Antzy the Bush's from Grandaddy Prescot to the CIA JFK killers and Pres George Senior to Pres Dubya to all current scions are bestties with the most extreme form of islamists in hostory the Wahhabists who enable the Saudis to control Saudi Arabia and it's wealth – they have even been referred to as the most Likudist state outside of Israel by Nuttyyahoo!

So there.

Koba ,

The Jew defender has spoken! Show me this support for Islamism! Im yet to find even a mainstream or fringe left wing party support that at all! Good goy a shekel has been deposited into your account

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

The USA Deep State is a Five Eyes partner and as such Trump must be given the proverbial boot for being an uneducated boor lacking political gravitas & business gravitas with his narcissistic Smoot-Hawley II 2019 trade wars.

Screw the confidence man-in-chief. He is a liability for the USA and global business.

Trump is not an asset.

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

Okay, I'll admit that he is a Russian Federation asset in so far as he is Putin's & Russian Federation Intelligence asset fodder that Putin can utilize at will whenever he desires but aside from being the biggest dumb arse in the Western Empire he is really an ignorant ignoramus when you drill right down to it.

I support the USA Deep State conspiracy to rid the good people of the United States of America of the Orange Oaf conundrum. The global business community would rather restore business fundamentals IMHO.

As MOU my perspective is absolute, sorry.

Like Josef Stalin I too have a reputation to uphold.

MOU

Joerg ,

It is an illusion to talk of "the Left" and "the Right" anymore, because the USA have become outright criminal: A Mafia-system ruled by some syndicates.
Think of this enormous sum of 23 (I believe) trillion Dollars missing in the Pentagon. And the House even decided to not research where this money went! To this see https://www.corbettreport.com/interview-1407-mark-skidmore-on-the-pentagons-missing-trillions/

Or think of the Ukraine and Joe and Hunter Biden (and other corrupt persons from the EU). Author Bill Martin mentions this above with :"dirty business in Ukraine".
But its not only about corruption. Now it's also about a murder-attempt – as every Mafia would never hesitate to execute. And Western media doesn't report this.
This has happened: Because of Joe Biden's quid-pro-quo demand to former Ukrainian president Poroshenko (no billions of Dollars from the US, if Shokin was not fired) state prosecutor Shokin was then fired. But some months ago there had now also been a poison-attack on Shokin. And now Shokin goes after Joe Biden – and he must, if he wants to survive!: To this on the site https://youtube.com/channel/UCdeMVChrumySxV9N1w0Au-w There click the video "JOE BIDEN, UKRAINE AND VIKTOR SHOKIN MERCURY POISONING".

paul ,

Trump, Sanders and Corbyn were all in their own way agents of creative destruction.
Trump tapped into the popular discontent of millions of Americans who realised that the system no longer even pretended to work in their interests, and were not prepared to be diverted down the Identity Politics Rabbit Hole.
The Deep State was outraged that he had disrupted their programme by stealing Clinton's seat in the game of Musical Chairs. Being the most corrupt, dishonest and mendacious political candidate in all US history (despite some pretty stiff opposition) was supposed to be outweighed by her having a vagina. The Deplorables failed to sign up for the programme.
Almost as a by product of his 2016 victory, Trump showed up the MSM hacks for what they were, lying, partisan shills utterly lacking in any integrity and credibility. The same applies to the intrigues and corruption of the Dirty Cops and Spookocracy. They had to come out from behind the curtain and reveal themselves as the dirty, lying, seditious, treasonous, rabid criminal scum they are. The true nature of the State standing in the spotlight for all the world to see. This cannot be undone.
For all his pandering to Adelson and the Zionist Mafia, for all his Gives to Netanyahu, Trump has failed to deliver on the Big Ticket Items. Syria was supposed to have been invaded by now, with Hillary cackling demonically over Assad's death as she did over Gaddafi, and rapidly moving on to the main event with Iran. They will not forgive him for this. They realise they are under severe time pressure. It took them a century to gain their stranglehold over America, and this is a wasting asset. America is in terminal decline, and may soon be unable to fulfil its ordained role as dumb goy muscle serving Zionist interests. And the parasite will find it difficult to find a replacement host.

paul ,

Sanders was shafted in 2016 by the corrupt DNC machine, and he is being shafted again.
He will probably be sidelined in favour of some third rate hack like Buttplug, or some other synthetic, manufactured nonentity.
If he isn't, and by some miracle does secure the nomination, they will fail to support him and just allow him to be defeated by Trump. It doesn't matter.
There are millions of decent people who have long been persuaded to play the game of Lesser Evils. They will be as disenchanted as was Trump's Base by a transparently corrupt, rigged system, and finally withdraw their support.
This has to be seen as a positive development.
They can no longer paper over the cracks.

paul ,

Likewise, there are more than a few crumbs of comfort to be drawn from the smearing and destruction of Corbyn.
As in America, it forced the Deep State to step out from behind the curtain and take direct control. The Zionist wire pullers had to step out into the spotlight and reveal the true extent of their domination.
The endless treachery and backstabbing of the Blairites have shown the Labour Party to be a lost cause, a dead end, a waste of time, effort and energy, and a waste of a man's rations, making way for something more worthwhile. This is another positive development.

Koba ,

Paul the people playing the lesser of two evils game aren't good people. They pretend they are. That's it. In a nutshell.

Dungroanin ,

Well Bill you make great points especially around the Impeachment minutiae – Eric the Schiffleur, Paul, a genuine legal expert, Schiffs shape changing and snakeeyed mesmerising , the levitation of Bolton into a Saviour? Holly shit!! Yanks eat some nasty foods no wonder there is great obesity (gratuitous I know).

BUT Bill, you will insist on working the old long con – the Left/Right imaginary one dimensional divide.

WHY?

There is only a 3-D Top-Bottom construct in the world in a roughly Pyramidal 'con' shape which shifts its peaks and size in time (4D).

It is the super rich oligarch owning Pathocracy in the hidden heights and their visible representative Kings and plutocrats at the top and their circles of diminishing powers and affluence down to the majority of humans below – kept in the dirt and slavery through indenture where they can't by shear violence of slave masters and dog soldiers.

There is only that top – bottom, squashed by bought priests and philosophers and 'economists' into first a 2-D triangle and then squashed into a 1-D line that people are told is left and right. The great owners of everything having disappeared of that scale but represented by their ciphers:-

Clintons / Obama are Left – Bush's / Trump are right.

Crap – they are just pawns in the top down 4D game trying to claw up the peaks – no wonder Donald named his son Baron – it may be his way of giving the finger to the glass ceiling he aims to shatter.

Bernie is a threat to that pyramid as Jeremy was here in the UK.

They had to stop Jeremy at any cost and the Judaeo-phobic smear was massive, added to the terrorist smear in the 2017 election. Along with the he was both a Brexiteer and anti Brexiteer smear and a Commie!

It was still not quite certain so the US openly interfered in rhe UK election with Pompeo's Gauntlet to stop Corbyn – where the fuck is the concerned democratic purveyors of the US on that election interference by the Sec of State and a pressure group upon a another sovereign country ?
Where are the judges? The IG's ? The glitterati? The Intellectuals ?
YOU Bill?

They FIXED the postal ballots to make sure – even after making sure a unprecedented winter, December, short daylight, prexmas date to minimise turnout.

Yes they did.

Sanders looks like he is going to get the gauntlet but being Jewish to start with – it will be harder to throw the Judaeophobe mud at him – so the shit thrown is, COMMUNIST ! It has already started, but to make sure the election will also be rigged, whether via the delegates or by the 'hanging chard de nous jour'.

Only a massive turnout and careful independent international election inspectors would ever get near that – though they didn't stop the Bolivian coup by the CIA did they?

Anyway Trump has a trump card he will play anyday soon – a NEW YALTA – which will turn him into a giant statesman of the world stage and he'll stomp home for his second term – for these above in the Pyramid better the devil they know and give Baron a baronial peak of his own snd Donald his pound if flesh!

George Mc ,

Haven't you just agreed with him here?

He thinks the left died in the 1960s, over a half century ago. It's pretty simple to identify a leftist: anti-imperialist/ anti-capitalist. The Democrats are imperialists. People who vote for the Democrats and Republicans are imperialists. This article is a confused mess, that's my whole point;)

If the Democrats and Republicans (and those who vote for them) are imperialists (which they are) then the left are indeed dead – at least as far as political representation goes. Although to be sure, that makes his point confused to say the least. He seems to be attempting to drum up support for Sanders who, by his own logic, isn't going to make a damn bit of difference (any more than Corbyn would have made had HE been elected in the UK).

George Mc ,

Truth be told, I usually tend to glaze over when I see articles about Trump's impeachment. Or indeed articles about American politics in general. And I see the Corbyn fiasco as the ultimate indication that UK politics is just another rigged show. The ultimate irony being, as I've said, that Corbyn would not have made a difference even if elected anyway. The fact that the media went so ruthlessly after him is an indication that even the appearance of socialism is too much for them. But I feel that, in the spirit of "What else can we write about?", we will continue to have articles on the minutiae of shenanigans between Boris and Patel etc. It seems to me that the only hope we now have is from events outside the political system which threaten to burst the charade apart.

George Mc ,

I think that if Corbyn had been elected, there would have been a severe limit as to what he could have achieved. (While of course, the media would be going into meltdown about plans for a new Auschwitz on the M1 etc.) However – I grant that the very election of such an "extreme" figure would cause a similar meltdown behind the scenes as it would lead to the deadliest thing of all: hope! It would have been a signal that an extensive part – even the majority – of the British public were sick of this neoliberal cancer. Thus, while the practical effect of a Corbyn victory would have been limited, the psychological effect (the damage done to the showbiz façade) would have been profound.

sharon marlowe ,

"Truth be told, I usually tend to glaze over when I see articles about Trump's impeachment. Or indeed articles about American politics in general."

lol So do I:)
It definitely irked me that such an article appeared here. It looked like a U.S.-TV-political-pundit-monologue thing.

[Mar 01, 2020] It was her waffling, insincerity, and attacks on Sanders that caused voters to realize not only that she was not committed to solving the most important issue dacing the nation and would likely accommodate to powerful interests in Obama-esque fashion.

Notable quotes:
"... not only did Warren botch the rollout, her plans were bad, and were seen as bad. ..."
"... "Elizabeth Warren cries and tries to regain ground with voters" [Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe ]. The deck: "Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, her ideological soulmate, rolls along, tears-free." Ouch. ..."
"... IMO it was her later waffling, insincerity, and backtracking on M4A that caused progressives to realize not only that she was not committed to solving the most important issue identified by Dem voters, but that she may not have a fire in her belly to address the nation's other urgent crises and would likely accommodate to powerful interests in Obama-esque fashion. ..."
"... Trump as the not-Democrat has such an edge among the disaffected who are still angry enough to vote ..."
"... I think that I can answer that. Jimmy Dore put out a 5-minute video showing her in action. A protestor heckled her in front of a meeting and she went into deer-in-spotlight mode and shut down. In the end she had to be rescued by Ayanna Pressley and I was thinking – "She really wants to debate Trump? Will she shut down then too?". (Some language) ..."
Dec 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Warren (D)(1): "What is happening with Elizabeth Warren?" [Chris Cilizza, CNN ].

"Less than two months ago, it looked as though Elizabeth Warren might just run away with the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination . Then that Warren wave hit a wall. Starting right around mid-October, Warren's numbers not only stopped moving upward but also began trending down

Add it all up and there's plenty of reason to believe that Warren's full-fledged support for Medicare for All -- coupled with her less-than-successful attempts to defend that position in the last two debates -- led to her current reduced status in the race."

If this were true, Sanders should drop as well. I think Cilizza should give consideration to the idea that not only did Warren botch the rollout, her plans were bad, and were seen as bad.

"Elizabeth Warren cries and tries to regain ground with voters" [Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe ]. The deck: "Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, her ideological soulmate, rolls along, tears-free." Ouch.

More: "According to the Des Moines Register, "after a long pause and with tears in her eyes, the senator from Massachusetts said 'yeah,' before telling the story of the divorce from her first husband," and how painful it was to tell her mother that her marriage was over.

To showcase the significance of the encounter, Warren tweeted out a clip."

Dead Lord. You don't tweet out your own tears to show sincerity. Have somebody else do it! Isn't anybody on her staff protecting her?

XXYY , December 3, 2019 at 3:40 pm

I think Cilizza should give consideration to the idea that not only did Warren botch the rollout, her plans were bad, and were seen as bad.

The establishment is trying mightily to salvage something useful from Warren's surprisingly rapid decline in the polls, constantly pushing the refrain that M4A was somehow the kiss of death for her.

In fact, she rose to prominence by riding on Sanders policies like Medicare for All, canceling student debt, and free college. "I'm with Bernie" was her frequent reply on several policy issues, and she co-sponsored Sanders' Medicare for All Senate bill to great effect on her own "progressive" cred.

IMO it was her later waffling, insincerity, and backtracking on M4A that caused progressives to realize not only that she was not committed to solving the most important issue identified by Dem voters, but that she may not have a fire in her belly to address the nation's other urgent crises and would likely accommodate to powerful interests in Obama-esque fashion.

Mo's Bike Shop , December 3, 2019 at 8:23 pm

Six years wait for the ACA to piss almost everyone off.

Trump as the not-Democrat has such an edge among the disaffected who are still angry enough to vote. Especially since the whole and only DNC message will be 'you can't possibly vote for Trump!!!'

The Rev Kev , December 3, 2019 at 6:38 pm

"What is happening with Elizabeth Warren?"

I think that I can answer that. Jimmy Dore put out a 5-minute video showing her in action. A protestor heckled her in front of a meeting and she went into deer-in-spotlight mode and shut down. In the end she had to be rescued by Ayanna Pressley and I was thinking – "She really wants to debate Trump? Will she shut down then too?". (Some language)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CeRiG9jdF0

flora , December 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Warren seems to have a tin ear when it comes to political give and take. IMO.

[Feb 29, 2020] The US's Inalienable Right to Violence by Gregory Shupak

Jan 21, 2020 | fair.org

Even when critical of US actions, media commentary on recent US bombings and assassinations in the Middle East is premised on the assumption that the US has the right to use violence (or the threat of it) to assert its will, anytime, anywhere. Conversely, corporate media coverage suggests that any countermeasure -- such as resistance to the US presence in Iraq -- is inherently illegitimate, criminal and/or terroristic.

Iranian puppeteers

One step in this dance is depicting US military forces in Iraq as innocent bystanders under attack by sadistic Iranian puppetmasters. Media analysis of the US murder of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani consistently asserted that he was "an architect of international terrorism responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans" ( New York Times , 1/3/20 ) or "a terrorist with the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands" ( Washington Post , 1/7/20 ). According to Leon Panetta ( Washington Post , 1/7/20 ), a former Defense secretary and CIA director,

The death of Soleimani should not be mourned, given his responsibility for the killing of thousands of innocent people and hundreds of US military personnel over the years.

There is little evidence for this contention that Iran in general or Soleimani personally is responsible for killing hundreds of Americans. When the State Department claimed last April that Iran was responsible for the deaths of 608 American servicemembers in Iraq between 2003 and 2011, investigative journalist Gareth Porter ( Truthout , 7/9/19 ) asked Navy Commander Sean Robertson for evidence, and Robertson "acknowledged that the Pentagon doesn't have any study, documentation or data to provide journalists that would support such a figure."

Porter showed that the US attribution of deaths in Iraq to Iran is an unsubstantiated government talking point from the Cheney era, one that was exposed at the time when Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno admitted that, though the US had attributed Iraqi resistance fighters' weapons to Iran, US troops found many sites in Iraq at which such weapons were being manufactured.

Gareth Porter reported in Truthout ( 7/9/19 ) that "the myth that Tehran is responsible for killing over 600 US troops in the Iraq War is merely a new variant of a propaganda line that former Vice President Dick Cheney used to attempt to justify a war against Iran more than a decade ago."

Scholar Stephen Zunes ( Progressive , 1/7/20 ) similarly demonstrated the lack of evidence for the idea that Iran is behind the killing of US forces in Iraq. Zunes noted that the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq , compiled by America's 16 intelligence agencies, downplayed Iran's role in Iraq's violence at roughly the same time that the Bush administration was saying that Iran was culpable.

As Porter pointed out, there was a much simpler explanation for American deaths in the period: The US targeted Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Mahdi Army fought back, imposing more casualties on US troops.

That the pundits dusted off 13-year-old propaganda to rationalize killing Soleimani is a clear indication that they were desperately grasping for any imperialist apologia within reach. If the American public is led to believe that Soleimani killed hundreds of Americans, large swathes of it are likely to regard his assassination as justified, necessary, or at worst a feature of the tit-for-tat ugliness inherent to war.

The narrative also ideologically shores up the US war on Iran in the American popular consciousness by presenting Iranians as primordially violent savages out to spill the blood of Americans, notably those in the military who are in the Middle East, presumably doing nothing but minding their own business. Presenting Iran as the reason for attacks on US forces in Iraq also implies that Iraqis had little objection to the US invasion, legitimizing the US's ongoing military presence in the country. The most obvious point about the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq is that they wouldn't happen if US soldiers weren't in Iraq.

When violence isn't violence

Another media dance move is to condemn anti-imperial violence while naturalizing imperialist violence. An editorial in the New York Times ( 1/3/20 ) said that Soleimani

no doubt had a role in the campaign of provocations by Shiite militias against American forces in Iraq that recently led to the death of an American defense contractor and a retaliatory American airstrike against the militia responsible for the attack.

Having US troops in Iraq, a country in which the US is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands , is not a "provocation," in the Times ' perspective; opposition to their presence is the provocation.

The December 27 attack that killed the US contractor did not occur in a vacuum. In 2018, the US was suspected of bombing affiliates of Kataib Hezbollah, the group the US blames for killing the contractor. Israel is suspected of carrying out a string of deadly bombings of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, of which Kataib Hezbollah is a key component, between July and September, a scenario at which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted .

The US reportedly confirmed that Israel was behind at least one of the bombings, and said it supports Israel's actions while denying direct participation. In any case, the US's lavish military support for Israel means that the former is effectively a party to the latter's bombing. Thus, the Kataib Hezbollah attack that killed the contractor can be seen as " retaliatory ," which complicates the notion that the subsequent US attack was as well.

Another Times editorial ( 1/4/20 ) describes Soleimani as "one of the region's most powerful and, yes, blood-soaked military commanders." At no point is Trump or any other US leader described as "blood-soaked" or anything comparable -- here, or in any of the mainstream media coverage I can find -- even as he and his predecessors are sopping with that of Afghans , Iraqis , Libyans and Syrians , to cite only a few recent cases. Evidently imperial violence is so righteous it leaves no trace behind.

Stephen Hadley, national security adviser in the George W Bush administration, wrote in the Washington Post ( 1/5/20 ):

What is clear is that one of the PMFs, Kataib Hezbollah, has been behind the escalating violence over the past several months as part of a campaign (assuredly with Iranian approval) to force out US troops. The campaign culminated in the December 31 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad. (The head of Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed with Soleimani.)

By expelling US forces, the Iraqi government would be falling into Kataib Hezbollah's trap: rewarding the militia's violent campaign, strengthening the Iranian-backed PMFs, weakening the Iraqi government and state sovereignty, and jeopardizing the fight against the Islamic State.

Kataib Hezbollah's actions are called "violence" twice in these three sentences, with their apex apparently being "the December 31 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad." Remarkably, the author makes no mention of the December 29 US airstrikes on five sites in Iraq and Syria that the US says belong to Kataib Hezbollah, bombings that reportedly killed 25 and injured 55 . Those, it would seem, do not constitute "violence." Iraqis damaging the embassy of the country whose economic sanctions killed half a million Iraqi children is "violence," but the US's lethal air raids are not. And expelling foreign armies weakens state sovereignty!

"No one in Baghdad was fooled" by anti-US protests in Iraq, which were "almost certainly a Soleimani-staged operation to make it look as if Iraqis wanted America out," declared Thomas Friedman ( New York Times , 1/3/20 ). (In a 2016 poll , 93% of young Iraqis said that they perceived the US as an "enemy.")

Thomas Friedman's Times article ( 1/3/20 ) on Soleimani's murder was bad even by Thomas Friedman standards. He dismissed the protests at the US embassy:

The whole "protest" against the United States Embassy compound in Baghdad last week was almost certainly a Soleimani-staged operation to make it look as if Iraqis wanted America out when in fact it was the other way around. The protesters were paid pro-Iranian militiamen. No one in Baghdad was fooled by this.

In a way, it's what got Soleimani killed. He so wanted to cover his failures in Iraq he decided to start provoking the Americans there by shelling their forces, hoping they would overreact, kill Iraqis and turn them against the United States. Trump, rather than taking the bait, killed Soleimani instead.

That there were thousands of protesters at the US embassy and that the Iraqi security forces stood aside to allow them to demonstrate suggests that what happened at the embassy cannot be reduced to a hoax stage-managed and paid for by Iran. Furthermore, the US did kill Iraqis two days before the protests, and that's what ignited them (to say nothing of the longer term record of the US devastating Iraq ). Like Hadley, however, Friedman pretends that the US's December 27 bombings didn't happen.

In the imperial imagination, the US has the right to violently pursue its objectives wherever it wants, and any resistance is illegitimate.

Gregory Shupak teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. His book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media , is published by OR Books.

  1. Konstantin Goranovic

    January 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Kudos to you Gregory for keeping us informed in this era of "post-truth". It takes courage to do what you are doing and I really admire it. Reply
  2. Christian J Chuba

    January 22, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    And yet their are 'fact checkers' out out the pro-Iran / anti-American media juggernaut, someone went to Tehran and reported on Soleimani's funeral, gasp, she must be denounced as a useful idiot because that was staged. All events we don't like are staged. Did Iran let people out of school or advertise the time and place of the procession? Most likely but so was JFK's funeral. In any case, who actually bothered to find out if the Iranians forced or paid people to attend Soleimani's funeral.

    I do feel violated being subjected to Friedman's self-proclaimed expertise. He does not feel any need to actually validate his statements other than to say, 'no one was fooled' and voila it is so. Great work if you can get it. Reply

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[Feb 29, 2020] Meghan McCain Has To Ask Warren Three Times To Admit Soleimani Was A Terrorist

So the person who saves Syria from occupation by IGIL is a terrorist ? Just a few years ago, CNN praised # Iran 's Qassem # Soleimani for defeating ISIS.
Jan 08, 2020 | t.co
Sarah Abdallah ‏ @ sahouraxo 16h 16 hours ago More

Just a few years ago, CNN was praising Qassem # Soleimani for being the driving force behind the defeat of ISIS. Today they call him a "terrorist" and expect you to believe them.

[Feb 25, 2020] The best thing about this debate is that Buttigieg won t survive to another one

Is it somehow an indicator of peak neoliberalism when a candidate literally begs for money from the debate stage?
Notable quotes:
"... Pee Wee Pete indeed. ..."
"... Is Bloomberg even worse than last week? Yes or Hell yes? ..."
Feb 25, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

shinola , February 25, 2020 at 8:13 pm

Buttgag's 1st comment brings up Russia! Russia! Rooskies would love to see chaos caused by Trump vs. Sanders.

Pee Wee Pete indeed.

flora , February 25, 2020 at 8:15 pm

1st question to Sanders: The economy is good. Why would your's be better.

Big River Bandido , February 25, 2020 at 8:15 pm

Bloomberg again just attempted to claim that he reduced stop and frisk by 95% which is a complete lie.

Samuel Conner, February 25, 2020 at 8:19 pm

After he realized it was a problem. I have read that the realization was imposed on him by a court order

flora, February 25, 2020 at 8:18 pm

Sanders: ideas
Warren: Sanders ideas, but I'd do it better.
hizzoner: Sanders is a Russian agent.
Butte: cliche, cliche, cliche
klobe: rhetoric, name drop, cliche, rhetroic, name drop a 3rd way SC pol.

chuckster , February 25, 2020 at 8:19 pm

Is Bloomberg even worse than last week? Yes or Hell yes?

[Feb 25, 2020] A Worthless 'New Deal' from the Iran Hawks

So Menendez survived as MIC stooge. Nice.
Iran hawks never talk about diplomacy except as a way to discredit it.
Notable quotes:
"... And even if Iran were to accept and proceed comply in good faith, just as Iran complied scrupulously with the JCPOA, what's to prevent any US administration from tearing up that "new deal" and demanding more? ..."
Feb 25, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

10:03 am

Daniel Larison Two Iran hawks from the Senate, Bob Menendez and Lindse Graham, are proposing a "new deal" that is guaranteed to be a non-starter with Iran:

Essentially, their idea is that the United States would offer a new nuclear deal to both Iran and the gulf states at the same time. The first part would be an agreement to ensure that Iran and the gulf states have access to nuclear fuel for civilian energy purposes, guaranteed by the international community in perpetuity. In exchange, both Iran and the gulf states would swear off nuclear fuel enrichment inside their own countries forever.

Iran is never going to accept any agreement that requires them to give up domestic enrichment. As far as they are concerned, they are entitled to this under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and they regard it as a matter of their national rights that they keep it. Insisting on "zero enrichment" is what made it impossible to reach an agreement with Iran for the better part of a decade, and it was only when the Obama administration understood this and compromised to allow Iran to enrich under tight restrictions that the negotiations could move forward. Demanding "zero enrichment" today in 2020 amounts to rejecting that compromise and returning to a bankrupt approach that drove Iran to build tens of thousands of centrifuges. As a proposal for negotiations, it is dead on arrival, and Menendez and Graham must know that. Iran hawks never talk about diplomacy except as a way to discredit it. They want to make a bogus offer in the hopes that it will be rejected so that they can use the rejection to justify more aggressive measures.

The identity of the authors of the plan is a giveaway that the offer is not a serious diplomatic proposal. Graham is one of the most incorrigible hard-liners on Iran, and Menendez is probably the most hawkish Democratic senator in office today. Among other things, Menendez has been a booster of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), the deranged cult of Iranian exiles that has been buying the support of American politicians and officials for years. Graham has never seen a diplomatic agreement that he didn't want to destroy. When hard-liners talk about making a "deal," they always mean that they want to demand the other side's surrender.

Another giveaway that this is not a serious proposal is the fact that they want this imaginary agreement submitted as a treaty:

That final deal would be designated as a treaty, ratified by the U.S. Senate, to give Iran confidence that a new president won't just pull out (like President Trump did on President Barack Obama's nuclear deal).

This is silly for many reasons. The Senate doesn't ratify treaties nowadays, so any "new deal" submitted as a treaty would never be ratified. As the current president has shown, it doesn't matter if a treaty has been ratified by the Senate. Presidents can and do withdraw from ratified treaties if they want to, and the fact that it is a ratified treaty doesn't prevent them from doing this. Bush pulled out of the ABM Treaty, which was ratified 88-2 in 1972. Trump withdrew from the INF Treaty just last year. The INF Treaty had been ratified with a 93-5 vote. The hawkish complaint that the JCPOA wasn't submitted as a treaty was, as usual, made in bad faith. There was no chance that the JCPOA would have been ratified, and even if it had been that ratification would not have protected it from being tossed aside by Trump. Insisting on making any new agreement a treaty is just another way of announcing that they have no interest in a diplomatic solution.

Menendez and Graham want to make the obstacles to diplomacy so great that negotiations between the U.S. and Iran can't resume. It isn't a serious proposal, and it shouldn't be taken seriously.

Feral Finster 5 hours ago

And even if Iran were to accept and proceed comply in good faith, just as Iran complied scrupulously with the JCPOA, what's to prevent any US administration from tearing up that "new deal" and demanding more?

[Feb 21, 2020] After the attack of Sanders Warren emerges as the Reactionary, Man-hating, Pathological Liar-Victim.

Feb 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

IronForge , Feb 20 2020 23:23 utc | 68

Warren is the Reactionary, Man-hating, Pathological Liar-Victim.

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/politics-ideas/campaigns-elections/elizabeth-warren-cornering-the-man-hating-vote/

Don't think America is going to Vote in Someone who Defrauded Others with Claims of being Part Native American.

Maybe Bloomberg may have been Out of Line a few times. A "Horse Faced Lesbian" - what if it were an accurate description? A "Fat Drunkard" - to someone who is correctly described - is it really that offensive?

If it were said in an inappropriate context - say for job interviews - we can see the error; but reading about Warren calling an Male Actor as "Eye Candy" puts her brand of Sexist Comments in the same Boat.

What was Fauxahontas' Native American Name, anyway?
"Doesn't like Horses"?

[Feb 20, 2020] Fratricide in Las Vegas - Six dwarfs mud fight should be fun all the way to November

Looks like it will Oligarch vs Oligarch Wrestling World Championship match again ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... These six dwarves will probably persist in their quest for the brass ring all the way to the convention ..."
Feb 20, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Some particulars:

  1. Bloomberg is revealed as having said in public that all the disposable income of the poor should be taxed away so that they will not have funds with which to do mischief like buying fast food or sugary drinks.
  2. Bloomberg described Sanders as a Communist who cannot be elected. In this he was correct.
  3. Bloomberg was described by Warren as a cold-hearted and insulting man who openly scorns women, gays and minorities.
  4. Mayor Pete mocked Klobuchar for her inability to remember the name of the president of Mexico. She asked if he was calling her "stupid."

These six dwarves will probably persist in their quest for the brass ring all the way to the convention. In the mayhem there, the "winner" will probably have to choose one of the "losers" to be his VP running mate.

This should be fun all the way to November. pl

[Feb 20, 2020] Warren comes across, to me, as even more shrill, harsh, angry and unlikeable than Clinton did at her worst.

Feb 20, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Bill H , 20 February 2020 at 01:31 PM

The media is cheering wildly for Warren and saying that she won the debate, but I found her to be utterly repugnant. She comes across, to me, as even more shrill, harsh, angry and unlikeable than Clinton did at her worst.

[Feb 15, 2020] Krystal Ball Warren's cynical attacks on Sanders are exactly why her campaign failed

Feb 15, 2020 | thehill.com

Hill.TV host Krystal Ball said Sen. Elizabeth Warren 's (D-Mass.) "campaign was lost long before this election cycle."

Ball pointed to Warren's "decision not to run in 2016 - she sat out the most critical election of our lifetime even though she knew better than I did the flaws of Hillary Clinton " Ball then slammed Warren's decision to not endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2016 noting "when her supposed friend and ally Bernie Sanders, who allegedly shares her politics and was fighting for the same values she had staked her career on got into the race and started sky-rocketing in the polls challenging Hillary for the lead, rather than making the movement choice and backing the progressive, she sat it out."

Ball claims Warren's "attempts to co-opt revolutionary rhetoric in service of an establishment campaign, like Disney doing socialism, satisfied no one and left her unable to win more than 1 county and Iowa and an embarrassing distant fourth behind Klobuchar in New Hampshire."

Click on the video above to catch Ball's full remarks.

[Feb 14, 2020] The sidelining of Elizabeth Warren by Kathleen Walsh

Feb 12, 2020 | theweek.com

The 2020 presidential race was always going to be an uphill battle for Elizabeth Warren.

Almost from the get-go, political pundits fretted about Warren's electability, setting in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy now reflected in the New Hampshire primary results . Warren's disappointing showing on Tuesday comes on the heels of a stirring debate performance and a strong third place finish in the Iowa caucuses -- two wins largely ignored by mainstream media commentators, who focused almost entirely on Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, with a spare thought for Amy Klobuchar's rise and Joe Biden's descent.

Defeating Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election is priority number one for the Democratic establishment, and a moderate candidate with the potential to sway swing voters and Republican defectors has long been billed as the wisest course. But by constructing a dichotomy between the self-described revolutionary leader Sanders and the aggressively non-threatening trifecta of moderate candidates (not to mention Bloomberg, who is suddenly the darling of cable news), the networks and pundits with the greatest persuasive power have ignored and undercut Warren's unique potential to unite the progressive left and hesitant center.

Warren seems to have unfairly inherited some of the hallmarks of Hillary Clinton's reputation. Clinton's devastating 2016 upset sparked practical questions as to whether a woman could win the presidency at all. And Warren's false claim to Native American heritage sealed a reputation for untrustworthiness that has stuck long after that conversation faded away. If Clinton, with all of her name recognition and experience, couldn't win against Trump, what hope could there be for the woman widely considered her successor?

Warren's progressive policies and folksy demeanor also framed her for many as a sort of second-tier Sanders, not far enough left for the progressives and too far left for gun-shy moderates. But it is precisely this position that makes her the most electable candidate.

Warren and Sanders are mostly aligned on their signature issues, but how they present these issues is entirely different, as are their proposed paths to achieve them. Sanders does not shy away from the word "socialist." He declares outright that his Medicare-for-All plan will raise taxes. He says billionaires should not exist. These declarations and convictions are brave and they are admirable. But they also inspire commentators like Chris Matthews to worry on-air that a Sanders administration will begin executing the wealthy in Central Park, French revolution style.

Warren takes a more measured approach in selling her policies, focusing on how she'll achieve them rather than the eventual outcome. She doesn't say billionaires should not exist, she proposes a wealth tax. Warren doesn't say "socialist," choosing instead to present the economic and social advantages to her plans without the label. The other key difference between Sanders and Warren is that, while Sanders has identified as far left for his entire political career, Warren was a committed Republican long before she became a progressive Democrat. As other commentators have noted , this history might not earn her many points with committed leftists, but it does put her in a unique position to appeal to the moderates and Republicans that candidates like Buttigieg and Klobuchar are trying to court. After all, she used to be one of them. And perhaps most importantly, polls continue to show Warren performing just as well as those candidates, if not better, in hypothetical general election matchups against Trump.

Yet the mainstream media seems determined to undermine her viability.

Sanders and Buttigieg finished neck and neck in the Iowa Caucuses (whose dubious import is a conversation for another day), with Warren close behind in third. As the dust around the disastrous vote-counting began to settle, the media centered the conversation on Sanders, Buttigieg, and Biden. For example, this headline from The Washington Post reads: "Buttigieg and Sanders take lead, Biden fades in partial results from marred Iowa caucuses," ignoring Warren's close third place finish entirely in favor of Biden's fourth.

During Friday's Democratic debate, many critics noted the relatively short speaking time given to Warren in comparison with her white male competitors. Afterwards, coverage again focused on Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Biden, and Sanders, despite Warren having the highlight of the night, when she responded to Buttigieg's embarrassing stumble on a question about race.

[Feb 14, 2020] The best about Trump is that it makes the US system so visibly transparent: The king and his servants (acolytes) looking for personal advantage ... Hillarious. Don't you second-rate allies/acolytes use the wrong words. We better give you talking points.

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

snake , Feb 13 2020 11:16 utc | 147

Pft 85 < The Constitution of the United States of America is a corporate charter. in form and substance, it redirected the distribution of profits from shareholders to feudal lords.

What it has been doing since Lincoln was shot is to develop lordships (called monopoly possessing corporations) and making sure those lordships were vested by rule of law, war in foreign land, and other measures as needed, to make sure the feudal lords and their corporations were always profitable no matter what and to be sure that any need or want the feudal lords had need for, the USA corporation would extract from those (called Americans) that it governs. ..

When the feudal lords fail, the government is made to give the feudal lord the money it needs to keep going. until the failed feudal lord can realize by its bull shit existence to be profitable again.

Vig , Feb 13 2020 12:48 utc | 152

Comment les Etats-Unis ont demandé à la communauté internationale de soutenir leur plan israélo-palestinien.or look for lefigaro.fr then international,then moyen orient.
Posted by: willie | Feb 13 2020 0:48 utc | 94

Interesting willie. Yes the best about Trump is that it makes the US system so visibly transparent: The king and his servants (acolytes) looking for personal advantage ... Hillarious. Don't you second-rate allies/acolytes use the wrong words. We better give you talking points.

https://www.lefigaro.fr/international/comment-les-etats-unis-ont-demande-a-la-communaute-internationale-de-soutenir-leur-plan-israelo-palestinien-20200201

[Feb 14, 2020] Now here is a good piece on Trump gangsterism by Gordon Duff

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Feb 12 2020 22:34 utc | 77

Now here is a good piece on Trump gangsterism by Gordon Duff.
I guess some is Duffy but most entirely believable.
Q wont reprint this .

ben , Feb 12 2020 22:41 utc | 81

Thanks for the link ut @ 77; An excerpt;

"Those who accept the policies of the Trump administration, cancellation of the JCPOA with Iran, seizing oil fields in Syria, endless sanctions on nation after nation, Europe blackmailed, endless threats emanating almost hourly from Trump's iPhone as "national policy" or even criminally deranged is simply not paying attention."

Excellent come back for the Qanon fantasy, which, IMO, ranks right up there with Ayn Rand's fevered dreams...

Pft , Feb 12 2020 23:28 utc | 85
Ran across this quote which is more true than not.

There is no America. Everything is just one vast corporation, an association of corporations. There's no Britain. There's no America. There's no Holland. There's no China. There's no Russia. It's one conglomerate of corporations. Money runs the thing."

-- Peter Finch as character Howard Beale, in the movie "Network

Its true when you consider the interlocking ownership of the elites in the major corporations and industries, which also capture governments political parties and regulatory agencies, and in China of course these local global elites make up parts of the party elite. While money is an important attribute of power, I think its a means and not an end to them. Their motivations is an ideology based on Platos Republic where they are pholisopher kings ruling the rest, and a religious idea that they, as elites may evolve to become like God and recover what was lost after the fall - as man was originally made in Gods image. Another name for it is Transhumanism which actually is idea that came from gnostic Judeo-Christian beliefs. Religion like Eugenics has not disappeared, both have just been renamed and repurposed. The Elites are Gods chosen people and the rest exist to serve.

uncle tungsten , Feb 13 2020 1:23 utc | 96
Penelope #95

Exactly Penelope, that is precisely what the Trump and establishment oligarchy want. Red herrings to mesmerise and nimble fingers to pick pockets and all backed by their 'rule of law', their thugs, their assault on humanity.

Benign neglect of the safety of citizens as part of this strategy of creating high level terror (be it actual violence or a coronavirus)is called out in this excellent analysis .

[Feb 09, 2020] Following the US assassination of Soleimani, the Trump administration is leading American conduct abroad into a zone of probably unprecedented lawlessness by Patrick Lawrence

Notable quotes:
"... In our late-imperial phase, we seem to have reached that moment when, whatever high officials say in matters of the empire's foreign policy, we must consider whether the opposite is in fact the case. So we have it now. ..."
"... Lawlessness begets lawlessness is the operative (and obvious) principle. In a remarkable speech at the Hoover Institution last week, Pompeo termed the Soleimani assassination "the restoration of deterrence" and appeared to promise other such operations against other nations Washington considers adversaries. Ominously enough, Pompeo singled out China and Russia. ..."
"... Against the background of the events noted above, it is clear from this speech alone that our secretary of state is a dangerously incompetent figure when it comes to judging global events, the proper responses to them, and the probable consequences of a given response. If we are going to think about costs, the heaviest will fall on Americans in months to come. ..."
"... Immediately after the U.S. drone that killed Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport, Mohammad Javad Zarif sent out a message whose importance should not be missed. "End of US's malign presence in West Asia has begun," Iran's foreign minister wrote. These few words, rendered in Twitterese, bear careful consideration given they come from an official whose nation had just sustained a critical blow. ..."
"... Gradually but rather certainly now, the community of nations is losing its patience with late-phase imperial America. With exceptions such as Japan and Israel, the Baltics and Saudi Arabia, this is so across both oceans and more or less across the non–Western world. In the Middle East, the American presence will remain for the time being, but we are now in the beginning-of-the-end phase. This was Zarif's meaning. And we now know the end will come neither peaceably nor lawfully. ..."
"... Amazing how the US government is bringing back the old days: "Slave markets" See: reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-rights/executions-torture-and-slave-markets-persist-in-libya-u-n-idUSKBN1GX1JY "Pillage", as pointed out in this article. ..."
"... To have such a person as the top diplomat in the USA shows how low the USA has sunk. For him to pretend to be some sort of Christian is sinister and extremely dangerous for everyone. There is NO reason for the US animosity towards Iran except subservience to Israel, which, again without real justification, claims to be terrified of Iran, which unlike Israel is NOT attacking others and has not for centuries. ..."
"... SecStae's remarks about deterrence befit a military commander, NOT a diplomat. Paranoia, grandiosity and violence begin with potus and cascade downward and about. Congress does its part in investing in machinery of war. ..."
"... Pompeo reminds me of the pigs in Animal Farm. He is a grotesque figure, steely-eyed, cold-blooded, fanatical, and hateful. "We lied, cheated, and stole" Pompous Maximus will get his comeuppance one of these days ..."
"... Pillage as policy. The Empire has fully embraced gangster capitalism for its modus operandi. ..."
"... Here is an interesting article that explains how governments have changed the rules so that they can justify killing anyone who they believe may at some point in time have the potential to be involved in a terrorist plot: viableopposition.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-bethlehem-doctrine-and-new.html ..."
"... This rather Orwellian move gives governments the justification that they to kill any of us just because they feel that we might pose a threat and that is a very, very scary prospect. It is very reminiscent of the movie Minority Report where crimes of the future are punished in the present. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Special to Consortium News

Of all the preposterous assertions made since the drone assassination of Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3, the prize for bottomless ignorance must go to the bottomlessly ignorant Mike Pompeo.

Speaking after the influential Iranian general's death, our frightening secretary of state declaimed on CBS's Face the Nation , "There was sound and just and legal reason for the actions the President took, and the world is safer as a result." In appearances on five news programs on the same Sunday morning, the evangelical paranoid who now runs American foreign policy was a singer with a one-note tune. "It's very clear the world's a safer place today," Pompeo said on ABC's Jan. 5 edition of This Week.

In our late-imperial phase, we seem to have reached that moment when, whatever high officials say in matters of the empire's foreign policy, we must consider whether the opposite is in fact the case. So we have it now.

We are not safer now that Soleimani, a revered figure across much of the Middle East, has been murdered. The planet has just become significantly more dangerous, especially but not only for Americans, and this is so for one simple reason: The Trump administration, Pompeo bearing the standard, has just tipped American conduct abroad into a zone of probably unprecedented lawlessness, Pompeo's nonsensical claim to legality notwithstanding .

This is a very consequential line to cross.

Hardly does it hold that Washington's foreign policy cliques customarily keep international law uppermost in their minds and that recent events are aberrations. Nothing suggests policy planners even consider legalities except when it makes useful propaganda to charge others with violating international statutes and conventions.

Please donate to the Winter Fund Drive.

Neither can the Soleimani assassination be understood in isolation: This was only the most reckless of numerous policy decisions recently taken in the Middle East. Since late last year, to consider merely the immediate past, the Trump administration has acted ever more flagrantly in violation of all international legal authorities and documents -- the UN Charter, the International Criminal Court, and the International Court of Justice in the Hague chief among them.

Washington is into full-frontal lawlessness now.

'Keeping the Oil'

Shortly after Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria last October, the president reversed course -- probably under Pentagon and State Department pressure -- and said some troops would remain to protect Syria's oilfields. "We want to keep the oil," Trump declared in the course of a Twitter storm. It soon emerged that the administration's true intent was to prevent the Assad government in Damascus from reasserting sovereign control over Syrian oilfields.

The Russians had the honesty to call this for what it was. "Washington's attempt to put oilfields there under [its] control is illegal," Sergei Lavrov said at the time. "In fact, it's tantamount to robbery," the Russian foreign minister added. (John Kiriakou, writing for Consortium News, pointed out that it is a violation of the 1907 Hague Convention. It is call pillage.)

Few outside the Trump administration, and possibly no one, has argued that Soleimani's murder was legitimate under international law. Not only was the Iranian general from a country with which the U.S. is not at war, which means the crime is murder; the drone attack was also a clear violation of Iraqi sovereignty, as has been widely reported.

In response to Baghdad's subsequent demand that all foreign troops withdraw from Iraqi soil, Pompeo flatly refused even to discuss the matter with Iraqi officials -- yet another openly contemptuous violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

It gets worse. In his own response to Baghdad's decision to evict foreign troops, Trump threatened sanctions -- "sanctions like they've never seen before" -- and said Iraq would have to pay the U.S. the cost of the bases the Pentagon has built there despite binding agreements that all fixed installations the U.S. has built in Iraq are Iraqi government-owned.

At Baghdad's Throat

Trump, who seems to have oil eternally on his mind, has been at Baghdad's throat for some time. Twice since taking office three years ago, he has tried to intimidate the Iraqis into "repaying" the U.S. for its 2003 invasion with access to Iraqi oil. "We did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil," he said on the second of these occasions.

Baghdad rebuffed Trump both times, but he has been at it since, according to Adil Abdul–Mahdi, Iraq's interim prime minister. Last year the U.S. administration asked Baghdad for 50 percent of the nation's oil output -- in total roughly 4.5 million barrels daily -- in exchange for various promised reconstruction projects.

Rejecting the offer, Abdul–Mahdi signed an "oil for reconstruction" agreement with China last autumn -- whereupon Trump threatened to instigate widespread demonstrations in Baghdad if Abdul–Mahdi did not cancel the China deal. (He did not do so and, coincidentally or otherwise, civil unrest ensued.)

U.S. Army forces operating in southern Iraq, April. 2, 2003. (U.S. Navy)

Blueprints for Reprisal

If American lawlessness is nothing new, the brazenly imperious character of all the events noted in this brief résumé has nonetheless pushed U.S. foreign policy beyond a tipping point.

No American -- and certainly no American official or military personnel -- can any longer travel in the Middle East with an assurance of safety. All American diplomats, all military officers, and all embassies and bases in the region are now vulnerable to reprisals. The Associated Press reported after the Jan. 3 drone strike that Iran has developed 13 blueprints for reprisals against the U.S.

Lawlessness begets lawlessness is the operative (and obvious) principle. In a remarkable speech at the Hoover Institution last week, Pompeo termed the Soleimani assassination "the restoration of deterrence" and appeared to promise other such operations against other nations Washington considers adversaries. Ominously enough, Pompeo singled out China and Russia.

Here is a snippet from Pompeo's remarks:

"In strategic terms, deterrence simply means persuading the other party that the costs of a specific behavior exceed its benefits. It requires credibility; indeed, it depends on it. Your adversary must understand not only do you have the capacity to impose costs but that you are, in fact, willing to do so . In all cases we have to do this."

Against the background of the events noted above, it is clear from this speech alone that our secretary of state is a dangerously incompetent figure when it comes to judging global events, the proper responses to them, and the probable consequences of a given response. If we are going to think about costs, the heaviest will fall on Americans in months to come.

Immediately after the U.S. drone that killed Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport, Mohammad Javad Zarif sent out a message whose importance should not be missed. "End of US's malign presence in West Asia has begun," Iran's foreign minister wrote. These few words, rendered in Twitterese, bear careful consideration given they come from an official whose nation had just sustained a critical blow.

24 hrs ago, an arrogant clown -- masquerading as a diplomat -- claimed people were dancing in the cities of Iraq.

Today, hundreds of thousands of our proud Iraqi brothers and sisters offered him their response across their soil.

End of US malign presence in West Asia has begun. pic.twitter.com/eTDRyLN11c

-- Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 4, 2020

Gradually but rather certainly now, the community of nations is losing its patience with late-phase imperial America. With exceptions such as Japan and Israel, the Baltics and Saudi Arabia, this is so across both oceans and more or less across the non–Western world. In the Middle East, the American presence will remain for the time being, but we are now in the beginning-of-the-end phase. This was Zarif's meaning. And we now know the end will come neither peaceably nor lawfully.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune , is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century" (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist . His web site is Patrick Lawrence . Support his work via his Patreon site .

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Please donate to the Winter Fund Drive.


Jeff Harrison , January 21, 2020 at 19:38

Well, there's two relevant bits here. Bullshit walks and money talks. Our money stopped talking $23T ago. What goes around, comes around. Whenever, however it comes down, it's gonna hurt.

Antiwar7 , January 21, 2020 at 13:46

Amazing how the US government is bringing back the old days: "Slave markets" See: reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-rights/executions-torture-and-slave-markets-persist-in-libya-u-n-idUSKBN1GX1JY "Pillage", as pointed out in this article.

rosemerry , January 21, 2020 at 13:28

To have such a person as the top diplomat in the USA shows how low the USA has sunk. For him to pretend to be some sort of Christian is sinister and extremely dangerous for everyone. There is NO reason for the US animosity towards Iran except subservience to Israel, which, again without real justification, claims to be terrified of Iran, which unlike Israel is NOT attacking others and has not for centuries.

Even if the USA hates Iran, it has already done inestimable damage to the Islamic Republic before this disgraceful action. Cruelty to 80 million people who have never harmed, even really threatened, the mighty USA, by tossing out a working JCPOA and installing economic "sanctions", should not be accepted by the rest of the world-giving in to blackmail encourages worse behavior, as we have already seen.

"It requires credibility; indeed, it depends on it. " This is exactly what should be rejected by us all. These "leaders" will not change their behavior without solidarity among "allies" like the European Union, which has already caved in and blamed Iran for the changes -Iran has explained clearly why it made- to the JCPOA which the USA has left.

Abby , January 21, 2020 at 20:15

The only difference between Trump and Obama is that Trump doesn't hide the US naked aggression as well as Obama did. So far Trump hasn't started any new wars. By this time in Obama's tenure we had started bombing more countries and accepted one coup.

dfnslblty , January 21, 2020 at 12:43

SecStae's remarks about deterrence befit a military commander, NOT a diplomat. Paranoia, grandiosity and violence begin with potus and cascade downward and about. Congress does its part in investing in machinery of war.

Cheyenne , January 21, 2020 at 11:49

The above comment shows exactly why bellicose adventurism for oil etc. is so stupid and dangerous. If we continually prance around robbing people, they're gonna unite to slap us down.

Hardly seems like anyone should need that pointed out but if anybody mentioned it to Trump or any other gung ho warhawk, he must not have been listening.

Dan Kuhn , January 21, 2020 at 13:08

Trump and Pompeo seem to have entered the Wild West stage of recent American history. I think they watch too many western movies, without understanding the underrlying plot of 100% of them. It is the bad guys take over a town, where they impose their will on the population, terrorizing everyone into obediance. They steal everything in sight and any who oppose them are summarily killed off. In the end a good guy ( In American parlance, " a good guy with a gun" shows up . The town`s people approach him and beg him to oppose the bad guys. He then proceeds to kill off the bad guys after the general population joins him in his crusade. it looks as though we are at the stage in the movie where the general population is ready to take up arms against the bad guys.

The moral of the story the bad guys, the bullies, Pompeo and Trump, are either killed or chased out of town. But perhaps the problem is that this plot is too difficult for Trump and Pompeo to understand. So they don`t quite get the peril that there gunmen and killers are now in. They don`t see the writing on the wall.

Caveman , January 21, 2020 at 11:30

It seems the only US considerations in the assassination were – will it weaken Iran, will it strengthen the American position? On that perspective, the answer is probably yes on both counts. Legal considerations do not seem to have carried any weight. In the UK we recently saw a chilling interview with Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It was clear that he saw the assassination as another nail in the coffin of the Iranian regime, simply furthering a policy objective.

Vera Gottlieb , January 21, 2020 at 11:19

What is even sadder is the world's lack of gonads to stand up to this bully nation – that has caused so much grief and still does.

Michael McNulty , January 21, 2020 at 11:01

The US government became a crime syndicate. Today its bootleg liquor is oil, the boys they send round to steal it are armies and their drive-by shootings are Warthog strafings using DU ammunition. Their drug rackets in the back streets are high-grade reefer, heroin and amphetamines, with pharmaceutical-grade chemicals on Main Street. They still print banknotes just as before; but this time it's legal but still doesn't make them enough, so to make up the shortfalls they've taken armed robbery abroad.

paul easton , January 21, 2020 at 12:55

The US Government is running a protection racket, literally. In return for US protection of their sources of oil, the NATO countries provide international support for US war crimes. But now that the (figurative) Don is visibly out of his mind, they are likely to turn to other protectors.

Gary Weglarz , January 21, 2020 at 10:34

One need not step back very far in order to look at the bigger longer range picture. What immediately comes into focus is that this is simply the current moment in what is now 500 plus years of Western colonialism/neocolonialism. When has the law EVER had anything to do with any of this?

ML , January 21, 2020 at 10:31

Pompeo reminds me of the pigs in Animal Farm. He is a grotesque figure, steely-eyed, cold-blooded, fanatical, and hateful. "We lied, cheated, and stole" Pompous Maximus will get his comeuppance one of these days. I hope he plans more overseas trips for himself. He is a vile person, a psychopath proud of his psychopathy. He alone would make anyone considering conversion to Christianity, his brand of it, run screaming into the night. Repulsive man.

Michael Crockett , January 21, 2020 at 09:40

Pillage as policy. The Empire has fully embraced gangster capitalism for its modus operandi. That said, IMO, the axis of resistance has the military capability and the resolve to fight back and win. Combining China and Russia into a greater axis of resistance could further shrink the Outlaw US Empire presence in West Asia. Thank you Patrick for your keen insight and observations. The Empires days are numbered.

Sally Snyder , January 21, 2020 at 07:28

Here is an interesting article that explains how governments have changed the rules so that they can justify killing anyone who they believe may at some point in time have the potential to be involved in a terrorist plot: viableopposition.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-bethlehem-doctrine-and-new.html

This rather Orwellian move gives governments the justification that they to kill any of us just because they feel that we might pose a threat and that is a very, very scary prospect. It is very reminiscent of the movie Minority Report where crimes of the future are punished in the present.

[Feb 09, 2020] Iowans Rage They're Dirty, Man, Matt Taibbi Warns Des Moines Debacle Was Waterloo For Democrats

Feb 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg seemed perfect, a man who defended the principle of wine-based fundraisers with military effrontery. New York magazine made his case in a cover story the magazine's Twitter account summarized as:

"Perhaps all the Democrats need to win the presidency is a Rust Belt millennial who's gay and speaks Norwegian."

(The "Here's something random the Democrats need to beat Trump" story became an important literary genre in 2019-2020, the high point being Politico's "Can the "F-bomb save Beto?").

Buttigieg had momentum. The flameout of Biden was expected to help the ex-McKinsey consultant with "moderates." Reporters dug Pete; he's been willing to be photographed holding a beer and wearing a bomber jacket, and in Iowa demonstrated what pundits call a "killer instinct," i.e. a willingness to do anything to win.

Days before the caucus, a Buttigieg supporter claimed Pete's name had not been read out in a Des Moines Register poll, leading to the pulling of what NBC called the "gold standard" survey. The irony of such a relatively minor potential error holding up a headline would soon be laid bare.

However, Pete's numbers with black voters (he polls at zero in many states) led to multiple news stories in the last weekend before the caucus about "concern" that Buttigieg would not be able to win.

Who, then? Elizabeth Warren was cratering in polls and seemed to be shifting strategy on a daily basis. In Iowa, she attacked "billionaires" in one stop, emphasized "unity" in the next, and stressed identity at other times (she came onstage variously that weekend to Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" or to chants of "It's time for a woman in the White House"). Was she an outsider or an insider? A screwer, or a screwee? Whose side was she on?

A late controversy involving a story that Sanders had told Warren a woman couldn't win didn't help. Jaimee Warbasse planned to caucus with Warren, but the Warren/Sanders "hot mic" story of the two candidates arguing after a January debate was a bridge too far. She spoke of being frustrated, along with friends, at the inability to find anyone she could to trust to take on Trump.

"It's like we all have PTSD from 2016," she said. "There has to be somebody."

... ... ...

What happened over the five days after the caucus was a mind-boggling display of fecklessness and ineptitude. Delay after inexplicable delay halted the process, to the point where it began to feel like the caucus had not really taken place. Results were released in chunks, turning what should have been a single news story into many, often with Buttigieg "in the lead."

The delays and errors cut in many directions, not just against Sanders. Buttigieg, objectively, performed above poll expectations, and might have gotten more momentum even with a close, clear loss, but because of the fiasco he ended up hashtagged as #MayorCheat and lumped in headlines tied to what the Daily Beast called a "Clusterfuck."

Though Sanders won the popular vote by a fair margin, both in terms of initial preference (6,000 votes) and final preference (2,000), Mayor Pete's lead for most of the week with "state delegate equivalents" -- the number used to calculate how many national delegates are sent to the Democratic convention -- made him the technical winner in the eyes of most. By the end of the week, however, Sanders had regained so much ground, to within 1.5 state delegate equivalents, that news organizations like the AP were despairing at calling a winner.

This wasn't necessarily incorrect. The awarding of delegates in a state like Iowa is inherently somewhat random. If there's a tie in votes in a district awarding five delegates, a preposterous system of coin flips is used to break the odd number. The geographical calculation for state delegate equivalents is also uneven, weighted toward the rural. A wide popular-vote winner can surely lose.

But the storylines of caucus week sure looked terrible for the people who ran the vote. The results released early favored Buttigieg, while Sanders-heavy districts came out later. There were massive, obvious errors. Over 2,000 votes that should have gone to Sanders and Warren went to Deval Patrick and Tom Steyer in one case the Iowa Democrats termed a "minor error." In multiple other districts (Des Moines 14 for example), the "delegate equivalents" appeared to be calculated incorrectly, in ways that punished all the candidates, not just Sanders. By the end of the week, even the New York Times was saying the caucus was plagued with "inconsistencies and errors."

Emily Connor, a Sanders precinct captain in Boone County, spent much of the week checking results, waiting for her Bernie-heavy district to be recorded. It took a while. By the end of the week, she was fatalistic.

"If you're a millennial, you basically grew up in an era where popular votes are stolen," she said.

"The system is riddled with loopholes."

Others felt the party was in denial about how bad the caucus night looked.

"They're kind of brainwashed," said Joe Grabinski, who caucused in West Des Moines.

"They think they're on the side of the right they'll do anything to save their careers.

An example of how screwed up the process was from the start involved a new twist on the process, the so-called "Presidential Preference Cards."

In 2020, caucus-goers were handed index cards that seemed simple enough. On side one, marked with a big "1," caucus-goers were asked to write in their initial preference. Side 2, with a "2," was meant to be where you wrote in who you ended up supporting, if your first choice was not viable.

The "PPCs" were supposedly there to "ensure a recount is possible," as the Polk County Democrats put it. But caucus-goers didn't understand the cards.

Morgan Baethke, who volunteered at Indianola 4, watched as older caucus-goers struggled. Some began filling out both sides as soon as they were given them.

Therefore, Baethke says, if they do a recount, "the first preference should be accurate." However, "the second preference will be impossible to recreate with any certainty."

This is a problem, because by the end of the week, DNC chair Tom Perez -- a triple-talking neurotic who is fast becoming the poster child for everything progressives hate about modern Dems -- called for an "immediate recanvass." He changed his mind after ten hours and said he only wanted "surgical" reanalysis of problematic districts.

No matter what result emerges, it's likely many individual voters will not trust it. Between comical videos of apparently gamed coin-flips and the pooh-poohing reaction of party officials and pundits (a common theme was that "toxic conspiracy theories" about Iowa were the work of the Trumpian right and/or Russian bots), the overall impression was a clown show performance by a political establishment too bored to worry about the appearance of impartiality.

"Is it incompetence or corruption? That's the big question," asked Storey.

"I'm not sure it matters. It could be both."

[Feb 09, 2020] Globalism requires rapacious capitalism.

Jan 27, 2020 | www.unz.com

Jake , says: Show Comment January 26, 2020 at 10:49 pm GMT

Globalism requires rapacious capitalism. Globalism is billionaires and multi-millionaires getting richer while the middle classes of the entire Western world get squeezed and then squeezed more, with once stable working classes ruined.

Liberal voters fall for it because the Globalists swear they are helping all the blacks and browns of the world. Liberal academics, journalists, artists, and 'ordinary rich' people back it because they invariably despise both the white working class and the non-Liberal white middle class. Neocons (WASPs as well as Jews) practice rapacious capitalism religiously because they worship Mammon.

[Feb 09, 2020] For me the scariest thing is not that the world is ruled by gangsters a criminal elite with the US ruling class its top mafia family.

Jan 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Jan 26 2020 18:35 utc | 22

Hausmeister and I discussed rule by fear, "deimocracy".

That was off topic, and belongs more properly here.

And to that discussion I wish to proffer an interesting related essay>

@ steelcityscribblings.(uk)"Talking WW3 Blues" "...For me the scariest thing is not that the world is ruled by gangsters – a criminal elite with the US ruling class its top mafia family. It is that this particular family, and the lesser criminals who ride its coat-tails, are justifiably worried...."

They too are ruled by fear. Not logos, not knowledge, fear, and panic.

What can go wrong with that?

They conjure up these, the lesser gods of the wars they've made since ...you name a date... And thus themselves are ruled, as they rule the people, by war and fear and panic.

[Feb 09, 2020] Pompeo and the Mafia Hit Strategy by Kurt Nimmo

Jan 21, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

For the former tank commander, murder -- not simply double-tapping the target with a firearm, but blowing him into meaty chunks with a Hellfire missile -- is "real deterrence."

Pompeo said during a speech at Stanford University's Hoover Institute "there was 'a bigger strategy' behind the killing of Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, Iran's elite foreign espionage and paramilitary force.

The USG Mafia Hit Strategy on steroids is not confined to threatening Iran, however. Pompeo eluded to Russia and China's leaders being assassinated.

Pompeo didn't come out and say Trump's government will steer Hellfire missiles specifically at Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or even Kim Jung-un . The message, however, is inescapable, especially for folks opposed to neoliberal crony capitalist domination of their national economies, industries, public services, and natural resources

Iran wants a nuke to prevent an attack by the USG in collaboration with the Zionist government in Israel. Ditto, North Korea. It remembers when the USG bombed virtually every city, town, and hamlet in the country and killed a third of the population. No doubt the mullahs in Tehran vividly recall Muammar Gaddafi's fate. They also remember how the CIA colluded with the Brits to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran and installed a monarchial tyrant.

It is entirely rational to seek the most effective deterrent to foreign invasion and mass murder campaigns waged relentlessly by the crony capitalist neolib USG and its little vicious client, Israel, the racist state where only Jews are considered first-class citizens and Arabs are tortured and killed -- or at best maimed (during anti-occupation protests, Israel snipers are instructed to aim for the eyes ).

For neocons, Trumpsters, and Fox News teleprompter readers, "taking out" Soleimani in Mafia hit fashion "was a brilliant move."

. @jockowillink says President @realDonaldTrump 's gamble ordering the strike that killed Soleimani was a brilliant move that killed an enemy of America and the Iranian people on #TheBrianKilmeadeShow @foxnation @foxnewsradio https://t.co/2w4S5n3yC8

Trump Threatens to Kill Iran's Spiritual Leader

-- Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) January 14, 2020

Yes, of course, murdering leaders of recalcitrant nations is considered a "brilliant move" by psychopaths. The Italian-Jewish Mafia killed opponents one-by-one or in small groups while the USG kills opponents in the thousands, even the millions. The Gambino family and Kosher Nostra founded by Arnold Rothstein (who was himself assassinated) would have loved to take out their opponents with Reaper drones and Hellfire missiles, courtesy of witless US taxpayers and debt-serfs.

State Department officials involved in U.S. embassy security were not made aware of imminent threats to four specific U.S. embassies, two State Department officials said, further undermining Trump's claims that Soleimani posed an imminent threat. https://t.co/sG9ZXyxOa3

-- Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 13, 2020

USG embassies were not and are not under threat by Iran. In Iraq, the people protesting outside the embassy are Iraqis. They want the USG and its contractors out of their country which is still reeling from Bush the Lesser's invasion, a follow-up on more than a decade of child-killing (over 500,000) sanctions and a previous invasion by Junior's father, the former CIA boss who would become president.

Corporate war propaganda media is pushing the narrative that Trump impulsively decided to slaughter Soleimani, as if it simply came to him out of the blue.

. @douglaslondon5 , who retired from CIA at the end of 2018, writes that he and his team "often struggled in persuading the president to recognize the most important threats" because of Trump's "focus on celebrity, headlines, and immediate gratification." https://t.co/1SlVDNb44l

-- Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 15, 2020

Hardly. This is simply another anti-Trump gimmick. If you look beyond this one-dimensional pre-election circus, you'll see Trump's orthodox Jewish son-in-law, Sheldon Adelson, and a cast of Zionist characters steering the president into war with Israel's enemies. Indeed, Trump is driven by a pathological need for attention and this has been successfully exploited by neocons in the service of a tiny nation based on racial and religious superiority.

The basic method Trump used to kill Soleimani was developed by the Israelis >30 years ago. Here's a screen shot from "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations," by Israeli author Ronen Bergman, here describing Israeli developments in late 1980s pic.twitter.com/MWKifPPjPF

-- James Perloff (@jamesperloff) January 14, 2020

The neolib USG with its Israel-first neocon faction is the largest and most deadly Mafia organization in the world.

The US government has killed millions since the end of FDR's war under false pretense and has overthrown countries far and wide. It trains and enables sadistic paramilitaries, has armed crazed Wahhabi jihadists, and is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon against innocent civilians.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Kurt Nimmo writes on his blog, Another Day in the Empire, where this articl e was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Feb 09, 2020] The CIA drug connection is as old as the Agency

Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Agent76 , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:06 pm GMT

Jan 14, 2020 The Dirty American Secret You're *NOT* Supposed to Know About

https://www.youtube.com/embed/02F5r2y9JU0?feature=oembed

December 3, 1993 The CIA Drug ConnectionIs as Old as the Agency

LONDON -- The Justice Department is investigating allegations that officers of a special Venezuelan anti-drug unit funded by the CIA smuggled more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States with the knowledge of CIA officials – despite protests by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the organization responsible for enforcing U.S. drug laws.

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/03/opinion/03iht-edlarry.html

Desert Fox , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:39 pm GMT
@Agent76 Agree, the CIA and MI6 and the Mossad are the biggest drug runners in the world.

[Feb 09, 2020] Bush older acted as a gangster in Kuwait war: he was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Bush older was the first president from CIA. He was already a senior CIA official at the time of JFK assassination and might participate in the plot to kill JFK. At least he was in Dallas at the day of assassination. .
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

SolontoCroesus , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 5:20 pm GMT

That Iraq is to say the least unstable is attributable to the ill-advised U.S. invasion of 2003.

Nothing to do with 9 years of sanctions on Iraq that killed a million Iraqis, "half of them children," and US control of Iraqi air space, after having killed Iraqi military in a turkey-shoot, for no really good reason other than George H W Bush seized the "unipolar moment" to become king of the world?

Maybe it's just stubbornness: I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

According to Jeffrey Engel, Bush's biographer and director of the Bush library at Southern Methodist University, Gorbachev harassed Bush with phone calls, pleading with him not to go to war over Kuwait

https://www.c-span.org/video/?310832-1/into-desert-reflections-gulf-war

(It's worth noting that Dennis Ross was relatively new in his role on Jim Baker's staff when Baker, Brent Skowcroft, Larry Eagleburger & like minded urged Bush to take the Imperial Pivot.)

According to Vernon Loeb, who completed the writing of King's Counsel after Jack O'Connell died, Jordan's King Hussein, in consultation with retired CIA station chief O'Connell, parlayed with Arab leaders to resolve the conflict on their own, i.e. Arab-to-Arab terms, and also pleaded with Bush to stay out, and to let the Arabs solve their own problems. Bush refused.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?301361-6/kings-counsel

See above: Bush was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Once again insist on entering into the record: George H Bush was present at the creation of the Global War on Terror, July 4, 1979, the Jerusalem Conference hosted by Benzion and Benjamin Netanyahu and heavily populated with Trotskyites – neocons.

International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., 1981.
(Wurmser became Netanyahu's acolyte)

Z-man , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:05 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

Yes I remember it well. I came back from a long trip & memorable vacation, alas I was a young man, to the television drama that was unfolding with Arthur Kent 'The Scud Stud' and others reporting from the safety of their hotel balconies filming aircaft and cruise missiles. It was surreal.
You are correct of course.

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump demand for 50% of Iraq oil revenue sound exactly like a criminal mob boss

Highly recommended!
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tucker , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

I've heard and read about a claim that Trump actually called PM Abdul Mahdi and demanded that Iraq hand over 50 percent of their proceeds from selling their oil to the USA, and then threatened Mahdi that he would unleash false flag attacks against the Iraqi government and its people if he did not submit to this act of Mafia-like criminal extortion. Mahdi told Trump to kiss his buttocks and that he wasn't going to turn over half of the profits from oil sales.

This makes Trump sound exactly like a criminal mob boss, especially in light of the fact that the USA is now the world's #1 exporter of oil – a fact that the arrogant Orange Man has even boasted about in recent months. Can anyone confirm that this claim is accurate? If so, then the more I learn about Trump the more sleazy and gangster like he becomes.

I mean, think about it. Bush and Cheney and mostly jewish neocons LIED us into Iraq based on bald faced lies, fabricated evidence, and exaggerated threats that they KNEW did not exist. We destroyed that country, captured and killed it's leader – who used to be a big buddy of the USA when we had a use for him – and Bush's crime gang killed close to 2 million innocent Iraqis and wrecked their economy and destroyed their infrastructure. And, now, after all that death, destruction and carnage – which Trump claimed in 2016 he did not approve of – but, now that Trump is sitting on the throne in the Oval office – he has the audacity and the gall to demand that Iraq owes the USA 50 percent of their oil profits? And, that he won't honor and respect their demand to pull our troops out of their sovereign nation unless they PAY US back for the gigantic waste of tax payers money that was spent building permanent bases inside their country?

Not one Iraqi politician voted for the appropriations bill that financed the construction of those military bases; that was our mistake, the mistake of our US congress whichever POTUS signed off on it.

melpol , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm GMT
...Trump learned the power of the purse on the streets of NYC, he survived by playing ball with the Jewish and Italian Mafia. Now he has become the ultimate Godfather, and the world must listen to his commands. Watch and listen as the powerful and mighty crumble under US Hegemony.
World War Jew , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
Right TG, traditionally, as you said up there first, and legally too, under the supreme law of the land. Economic sanctions are subject to the same UNSC supervision as forcible coercion.

UN Charter Article 41: "The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/index.html

US "sanctions" require UNSC authorization. Unilateral sanctions are nothing but illegal coercive intervention, as the non-intervention principle is customary international law, which is US federal common law.

The G-192, that is, the entire world, has affirmed this law. That's why the US is trying to defund UNCTAD as redundant with the WTO (UNCTAD is the G-192's primary forum.) In any case, now that the SCO is in a position to enforce this law at gunpoint with its overwhelmingly superior missile technology, the US is going to get stomped and tased until it complies and stops resisting.

Charlie , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:53 pm GMT
@Tucker This idea that the US is any sort of a net petroleum exporter is just another lie.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=268&t=6

In 2018 total US petroleum production was under 18 million barrels per day, total consumption north of 20 mmb/d. What does it matter if the US exports a bunch of super light fracked product the US itself can't refine if it turns around and imports it all back in again and then some.

The myths we tell ourselves, like a roaring economy that nevertheless generates a $1 trillion annual deficit, will someday come back to bite us. Denying reality is not a winning game plan for the long run.

Christophe GJ , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm GMT
I long tought that US foreign policies were mainly zionist agenda – driven, but the Venezuelan affair and the statements of Trump himself about the syrian oil (ta be "kept" (stolen)) make you think twice.

Oil seems to be at least very important even if it's not the main cause of middle east problems

So maybe it's the cause of illegal and cruel sanctions against Iran : Get rid of competitor to sell shale oil everywhere ?( think also of Norstream 2 here)

Watch out US of A. in the end there is something sometimes referred to as the oil's curse . some poor black Nigerians call oil "the shit of the devil", because it's such a problem – related asset Have you heard of it ? You get your revenues from oil easily, so you don't have to make effort by yourself. And in the end you don't keep pace with China on 5G ? Education fails ? Hmm
Becommig a primary sector extraction nation sad destiny indeed, like africans growing cafe, bananas and cacao for others. Not to mention environmental problems
What has happened to the superb Nation that send the first man on the moon and invented modern computers ?
Disapointment
Money for space or money for war following the Zio. Choose Uncle Sam !
Difficult to have both

OverCommenter , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:24 pm GMT
Everyone seems to forget how we avoided war with Syria all those years ago It was when John Kerry of all people gaffed, and said "if Assad gives up all his chemical weapons." That was in response to a reporter who asked "is there anything that can stop the war?" A intrepid Russian ambassador chimed in loud enough for the press core to hear his "OK" and history was averted. Thinking restricting the power of the President will stop brown children from dying at the hands of insane US foreign policy is a cope. "Bi-partisanship" voted to keep troops in Syria, that was only a few months ago, have you already forgotten? Dubya started the drone program, and the magical African everyone fawns over, literally doubled the remote controlled death. We are way past pretending any elected official from either side is actually against more ME war, or even that one side is worse than the other.

The problem with the supporters Trump has left is they so desperately want to believe in something bigger than themselves. They have been fed propaganda for their whole lives, and as a result can only see the world in either "this is good" or "this is bad." The problem with the opposition is that they are insane. and will say or do anything regardless of the truth. Trump could be impeached for assassinating Sulimani, yet they keep proceeding with fake and retarded nonsense. Just like keeping troops in Syria, even the most insane rabid leftoids are just fine with US imperialism, so long as it's promoting Starbucks, Marvel and homosex, just like we see with support for HK. That is foreign meddling no matter how you try to justify it, and it's not even any different messaging than the hoax "bring democracyhumanrightsfreedom TM to the poor Arabs" justification that was used in Iraq. They don't even have to come up with a new play to run, it's really quite incredible.

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:44 pm GMT
@OverCommenter A lot of right-wingers also see military action in the Middle East as a way for America to flex its muscles and bomb some Arabs. It also serves to justify the insane defence budget that could be used to build a wall and increase funding to ICE.

US politics has become incredibly bi-partisan, criticising Trump will get you branded a 'Leftist' in many circles. This extreme bipartisanship started with the Obama birth certificate nonsense which was being peddled by Jews like Orly Taitz, Philip J. Berg, Robert L. Shulz, Larry Klayman and Breitbart news – most likely because Obama was pursuing the JCPOA and not going hard enough on Iran – and continued with the Trump Russian agent angle.

Now many Americans cannot really think critically, they stick to their side like a fan sticks to their sports team.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm GMT
The first person I ever heard say sanctions are acts of war was Ron Paul. The repulsive Madeleine Albright infamously said the deaths of 500,000 Iranian children due to US sanctions was worth it. She ought to be tried as a war criminal. Ron Paul ought to be Secretary of State.

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump Secretly Threatened Europe With Auto Tariffs If It Didn t Declare Iran In Breach Of Nuclear Deal

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's threats of auto tariffs to gain trade concessions with the Europeans is certainly nothing new, but using the same to dictate foreign policy is, notes WaPo's diplomatic correspondent John Hudson. ..."
"... Interestingly, in Wednesday's joint statement the European signatories attempted to distance their drastic action away from Washington's so-called "maximum pressure" campaign. "Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran," they said . ..."
"... The statement also underscored Europe hopes to use the mechanism "to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA" and in the words of one official quoted in The Guardian to prevent nuclear advancement to the point that the Iranians "learn something that it is not possible for them to unlearn" . ..."
Jan 15, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

A bombshell revelation from The Washington Post a day after France, Britain and Germany took unprecedented action against Iran by formally triggering the dispute resolution mechanism regulating conformity to the deal, seen as the harshest measure taken by the European signatories thus far. The European powers officially see Iran as in breach of the deal which means UN and EU punitive sanctions are now on the table.

But according to The Post , how things quickly escalated to this point is real story : " Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25% tariff on European autos if they didn't," says the report.

This came as a "shock" to all three countries, with one top European official calling it essentially "extortion" and a new level of hardball tactics from the Trump administration.

After the US leveraged the new tariffs threat according to the report, European capitals moved quick to trigger the mechanism, which involved the individual European states formally notifying the agreement's guarantor, the European Union, that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal.

This followed the Jan.6 declaration of Tehran's leadership to no longer be beholden to uranium enrichment limits. And that's where things got interesting as Washington's pressure campaign dramatically turned up the heat on Europe.

"Within days, the three countries would formally accuse Iran of violating the deal, triggering a recourse provision that could reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran and unravel the last remaining vestiges of the Obama-era agreement," the report continues .

However, the report notes France, the UK, and Germany were already in deep discussion on moving forward with triggering the mechanism. "We didn't want to look weak, so we agreed to keep the existence of the threat a secret," a European official cited by WaPo claims.

Trump's threats of auto tariffs to gain trade concessions with the Europeans is certainly nothing new, but using the same to dictate foreign policy is, notes WaPo's diplomatic correspondent John Hudson.

Interestingly, in Wednesday's joint statement the European signatories attempted to distance their drastic action away from Washington's so-called "maximum pressure" campaign. "Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran," they said .

The statement also underscored Europe hopes to use the mechanism "to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA" and in the words of one official quoted in The Guardian to prevent nuclear advancement to the point that the Iranians "learn something that it is not possible for them to unlearn" .

Now that the mechanism has been enacted, the clock starts on 65 days of intensive negotiations before UN sanctions would be reimposed if no resolution is reached. Specifically a blanket arms embargo would be imposed among other measures, and certainly it would mark the deal's final demise, given the Europeans are Iran's last hope for being equal partners in the deal.

Also interesting is that in the hours before The Washington Post report was published, Iranian FM Zarif charged that the EU investigation into Iran's alleged non-compliance meant Europe is allowing itself to be bulled by the United States .

Indeed the new revelation of the secret threats attempting to dictate Europe's course appear to confirm precisely Zarif's words to reporters earlier on Wednesday : "They say 'We are not responsible for what the United States did.' OK, but you are independent" he began. And then added a stinging rebuke: "Europe, EU, is the largest global economy. So why do you allow the United States to bully you around?"

[Feb 09, 2020] Trumps Mercenary Foreign Policy by Daniel Larison

Jan 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

elley Vlahos comments on the president's willingness to send more U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia:

It is time to claw back from this toxic relationship, and the first place to start is to transform our current mission of paternalistic "power projection" to one of "national defense." Who cares what the House of Saud wants to buy -- it's not what the American taxpayer pays for, and amen to Amash for putting it in such bald terms.

Trump's statement that he will send more troops to Saudi Arabia in exchange for payment sums up his foreign policy worldview quite well. He has no objection to sending U.S. troops to other countries, and he doesn't mind putting them in harm's way, as long as he thinks someone will pay for it. Trump is not interested in whether a particular mission makes the U.S. more secure, and he certainly doesn't think strategically about what the U.S. should be trying to accomplish. He just wants to get someone to fork over some cash. The absurd thing is that the cash is never forthcoming, but Trump keeps sending the troops to these places anyway.

We saw the same mercenary attitude during the campaign when he talked about setting up a "big, beautiful safe zone" in Syria, which he assured us would be paid for by Arab client states. We have seen it several times when he talks about "taking the oil" from this or that country to compensate the U.S. for our military interventions. As long as the Saudis and Emiratis are paying customers for weapons that they use to kill Yemenis, Trump will happily put their preferences and interests first.

Oddly enough for a self-proclaimed nationalist, the president has no notion of the national interest, but sees everything in narrow terms of wealth that can be extracted from others. This is why he talks about NATO as if it were a protection racket and shakes down South Korea for more money, and it is why he thinks it is acceptable to keep U.S. forces in Syria illegally so that they can control Syrian oil fields. It is why he insists that Iraq pay us for the cost of the installations that the U.S. built during the occupation of their country. It is also one reason why he relies so heavily on economic warfare in his attempt to coerce other states to do what he wants, because he seems to think that everyone is just as preoccupied with getting money as he is.

Contrary to the common assumption that Trump espouses some sort of "Jacksonian" foreign policy, this is an approach that ignores national honor and interest and focuses solely on lucre. Trump resembles nothing so much as a minor German prince from the 17th or 18th century who hires out his soldiers to fight the wars of other countries. This is what a mercenary foreign policy looks like, and it has nothing to do with making the U.S. more secure


Barlaam of Weimerica16 hours ago

Even granted that Trump doesn't meet the low bar of Jacksonianism in foreign policy, I'm weary of even that much - all the talk of national honour seems to amount to little more than doing incredibly stupid and wicked things, and then persisting in them, because to do otherwise would cause a loss of face or credibility.
FL_Cottonmouth Barlaam of Weimerica12 hours ago
"Credibility" to the neocons is nothing more than "street cred." They're like gangsters.
David Naas15 hours ago
True believers will not be suaded by mere "facts". (When "fact" has become a synonym for "fake news".) Nor even if their little noses are rubbed in the Trumpoo. Not even when Trump's daily circus empowers the Left and discourages the old conservatives.

We are begging for a national trauma and we will get it.

Antiphon David Naas14 hours ago
lol - blow me down with that argument: Trumpoo and "old conservatives".

Mmkay...

HenionJD15 hours ago
Hey, so long as they're not hauling our kids away to die in some forsaken "s**thole" who cares where our "killing machines" our sent?
FL_Cottonmouth HenionJD12 hours ago
The old English and American republicans were exactly right about the dangers of a "standing army" (that is, the professionionalization of the military). I'm for reinstating the draft not as a means of bolstering our ranks but as a means of mobilizing a permanent antiwar movement.
FL_Cottonmouth13 hours ago • edited
I've never liked applying the term "Jacksonian" to foreign policy because the Jackson presidency didn't have much of a foreign policy (unlike, say, his protégé James K. Polk ). Most of what gets passed off as "Jacksonian" in terms of foreign policy is really just Gen. Jackson's military policy during the Creek War, the War of 1812, and the annexation of Spanish Florida. In other words, "Jacksonian foreign policy" is just another for "militarized foreign policy."

Indeed, I can only imagine how outraged Jackson would be with the imperialism that "conservative" pundits are justifying in his name. Jackson was fiercely loyal to the ideal of the citizen-soldier/militiaman - and to the men themselves - and would have been furious if foreign influence in the government turned them into mercenaries. Knowing Jackson, the men responsible for such treachery might not have lived for very much longer.

To the extent that Jackson even addressed foreign policy, he (like John Quincy Adams) echoed the wisdom of the Founding Fathers:

If we turn to our relations with foreign powers, we find our condition equally gratifying. Actuated by the sincere desire to do justice to every nation and to preserve the blessings of peace, our intercourse with them has been conducted on the part of this Government in the spirit of frankness; and I take pleasure in saying that it has generally been met in a corresponding temper. Difficulties of old standing have been surmounted by friendly discussion and the mutual desire to be just, and the claims of our citizens, which had been long withheld, have at length been acknowledged and adjusted and satisfactory arrangements made for their final payment; and with a limited, and I trust a temporary, exception, our relations with every foreign power are now of the most friendly character, our commerce continually expanding, and our flag respected in every quarter of the world.

While I am thus endeavoring to press upon your attention the principles which I deem of vital importance in the domestic concerns of the country, I ought not to pass over without notice the important considerations which should govern your policy toward foreign powers. It is unquestionably our true interest to cultivate the most friendly understanding with every nation and to avoid by every honorable means the calamities of war, and we shall best attain this object by frankness and sincerity in our foreign intercourse, by the prompt and faithful execution of treaties, and by justice and impartiality in our conduct to all. But no nation, however desirous of peace, can hope to escape occasional collisions with other powers, and the soundest dictates of policy require that we should place ourselves in a condition to assert our rights if a resort to force should ever become necessary. Our local situation, our long line of seacoast, indented by numerous bays, with deep rivers opening into the interior, as well as our extended and still increasing commerce, point to the Navy as our natural means of defense. It will in the end be found to be the cheapest and most effectual, and now is the time, in a season of peace and with an overflowing revenue, that we can year after year add to its strength without increasing the burdens of the people. It is your true policy, for your Navy will not only protect your rich and flourishing commerce in distant seas, but will enable you to reach and annoy the enemy and will give to defense its greatest efficiency by meeting danger at a distance from home. It is impossible by any line of fortifications to guard every point from attack against a hostile force advancing from the ocean and selecting its object, but they are indispensable to protect cities from bombardment, dockyards and naval arsenals from destruction, to give shelter to merchant vessels in time of war and to single ships or weaker squadrons when pressed by superior force. Fortifications of this description can not be too soon completed and armed and placed in a condition of the most perfect preparation. The abundant means we now possess can not be applied in any manner more useful to the country, and when this is done and our naval force sufficiently strengthened and our militia armed we need not fear that any nation will wantonly insult us or needlessly provoke hostilities. We shall more certainly preserve peace when it is well understood that we are prepared for War.

To the extent that Jackson is even endorsing war rather than peace and trade, it is in the context of national defense - literally defending our national borders from attack, not defending our military bases on/within the borders of foreign countries from attack.

Taras778 hours ago • edited
To add to the many outrages of the day coming out of this admin, now sending the troops as mercenaries for hire to saudi takes it down to a new low, these lows being set almost every week.

The murder of Iranian general must put a new low on the military as well as the drone operators are now in a place not good, assassins of someone outside of a war and/or combat. It hearkens back to obama's killing program and its probable continuation by trump.

Not good programs to be affiliated with for the US military for anyone with a conscience.

[Feb 09, 2020] The Deeper Story Behind The Assassination Of Soleimani

Highly recommended!
Looks like the end of Full Spectrum Dominance the the USA enjoyed since 1991. Alliance of Iran, Russia and China (with Turkey and Pakistan as two possible members) is serious military competitor and while the USA has its set of trump cards, the military victory against such an alliance no longer guaranteed.
Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Days after the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, new and important information is coming to light from a speech given by the Iraqi prime minister. The story behind Soleimani's assassination seems to go much deeper than what has thus far been reported, involving Saudi Arabia and China as well the US dollar's role as the global reserve currency .

The Iraqi prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, has revealed details of his interactions with Trump in the weeks leading up to Soleimani's assassination in a speech to the Iraqi parliament. He tried to explain several times on live television how Washington had been browbeating him and other Iraqi members of parliament to toe the American line, even threatening to engage in false-flag sniper shootings of both protesters and security personnel in order to inflame the situation, recalling similar modi operandi seen in Cairo in 2009, Libya in 2011, and Maidan in 2014. The purpose of such cynicism was to throw Iraq into chaos.

Here is the reconstruction of the story:

[Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq] Halbousi attended the parliamentary session while almost none of the Sunni members did. This was because the Americans had learned that Abdul-Mehdi was planning to reveal sensitive secrets in the session and sent Halbousi to prevent this. Halbousi cut Abdul-Mehdi off at the commencement of his speech and then asked for the live airing of the session to be stopped. After this, Halbousi together with other members, sat next to Abdul-Mehdi, speaking openly with him but without it being recorded. This is what was discussed in that session that was not broadcast:

Abdul-Mehdi spoke angrily about how the Americans had ruined the country and now refused to complete infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless they were promised 50% of oil revenues, which Abdul-Mehdi refused.

The complete (translated) words of Abdul-Mahdi's speech to parliament:

This is why I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to ask me to reject this agreement. When I refused, he threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership.

Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine snipers on tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me.

I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.

After this, when our Minister of Defense publicly stated that a third party was targeting both protestors and security personnel alike (just as Trump had threatened he would do), I received a new call from Trump threatening to kill both me and the Minister of Defense if we kept on talking about this "third party".

Nobody imagined that the threat was to be applied to General Soleimani, but it was difficult for Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to reveal the weekslong backstory behind the terrorist attack.

I was supposed to meet him [Soleimani] later in the morning when he was killed. He came to deliver a message from Iran in response to the message we had delivered to the Iranians from the Saudis.

We can surmise, judging by Saudi Arabia's reaction , that some kind of negotiation was going on between Tehran and Riyadh:

The Kingdom's statement regarding the events in Iraq stresses the Kingdom's view of the importance of de-escalation to save the countries of the region and their people from the risks of any escalation.

Above all, the Saudi Royal family wanted to let people know immediately that they had not been informed of the US operation:

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not consulted regarding the US strike. In light of the rapid developments, the Kingdom stresses the importance of exercising restraint to guard against all acts that may lead to escalation, with severe consequences.

And to emphasize his reluctance for war, Mohammad bin Salman sent a delegation to the United States. Liz Sly , the Washington Post Beirut bureau chief, tweated:

Saudi Arabia is sending a delegation to Washington to urge restraint with Iran on behalf of [Persian] Gulf states. The message will be: 'Please spare us the pain of going through another war'.

What clearly emerges is that the success of the operation against Soleimani had nothing to do with the intelligence gathering of the US or Israel. It was known to all and sundry that Soleimani was heading to Baghdad in a diplomatic capacity that acknowledged Iraq's efforts to mediate a solution to the regional crisis with Saudi Arabia.

It would seem that the Saudis, Iranians and Iraqis were well on the way towards averting a regional conflict involving Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Riyadh's reaction to the American strike evinced no public joy or celebration. Qatar, while not seeing eye to eye with Riyadh on many issues, also immediately expressed solidarity with Tehran, hosting a meeting at a senior government level with Mohammad Zarif Jarif, the Iranian foreign minister. Even Turkey and Egypt , when commenting on the asassination, employed moderating language.

This could reflect a fear of being on the receiving end of Iran's retaliation. Qatar, the country from which the drone that killed Soleimani took off, is only a stone's throw away from Iran, situated on the other side of the Strait of Hormuz. Riyadh and Tel Aviv, Tehran's regional enemies, both know that a military conflict with Iran would mean the end of the Saudi royal family.

When the words of the Iraqi prime minister are linked back to the geopolitical and energy agreements in the region, then the worrying picture starts to emerge of a desperate US lashing out at a world turning its back on a unipolar world order in favor of the emerging multipolar about which I have long written .

The US, now considering itself a net energy exporter as a result of the shale-oil revolution (on which the jury is still out), no longer needs to import oil from the Middle East. However, this does not mean that oil can now be traded in any other currency other than the US dollar.

The petrodollar is what ensures that the US dollar retains its status as the global reserve currency, granting the US a monopolistic position from which it derives enormous benefits from playing the role of regional hegemon.

This privileged position of holding the global reserve currency also ensures that the US can easily fund its war machine by virtue of the fact that much of the world is obliged to buy its treasury bonds that it is simply able to conjure out of thin air. To threaten this comfortable arrangement is to threaten Washington's global power.

Even so, the geopolitical and economic trend is inexorably towards a multipolar world order, with China increasingly playing a leading role, especially in the Middle East and South America.

Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia together make up the overwhelming majority of oil and gas reserves in the world. The first three have an elevated relationship with Beijing and are very much in the multipolar camp, something that China and Russia are keen to further consolidate in order to ensure the future growth for the Eurasian supercontinent without war and conflict.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is pro-US but could gravitate towards the Sino-Russian camp both militarily and in terms of energy. The same process is going on with Iraq and Qatar thanks to Washington's numerous strategic errors in the region starting from Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria and Yemen in recent years.

The agreement between Iraq and China is a prime example of how Beijing intends to use the Iraq-Iran-Syria troika to revive the Middle East and and link it to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

While Doha and Riyadh would be the first to suffer economically from such an agreement, Beijing's economic power is such that, with its win-win approach, there is room for everyone.

Saudi Arabia provides China with most of its oil and Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, supply China with most of its LNG needs, which lines up with Xi Jinping's 2030 vision that aims to greatly reduce polluting emissions.

The US is absent in this picture, with little ability to influence events or offer any appealing economic alternatives.

Washington would like to prevent any Eurasian integration by unleashing chaos and destruction in the region, and killing Soleimani served this purpose. The US cannot contemplate the idea of the dollar losing its status as the global reserve currency. Trump is engaging in a desperate gamble that could have disastrous consequences.

The region, in a worst-case scenario, could be engulfed in a devastating war involving multiple countries. Oil refineries could be destroyed all across the region, a quarter of the world's oil transit could be blocked, oil prices would skyrocket ($200-$300 a barrel) and dozens of countries would be plunged into a global financial crisis. The blame would be laid squarely at Trump's feet, ending his chances for re-election.

To try and keep everyone in line, Washington is left to resort to terrorism, lies and unspecified threats of visiting destruction on friends and enemies alike.

Trump has evidently been convinced by someone that the US can do without the Middle East, that it can do without allies in the region, and that nobody would ever dare to sell oil in any other currency than the US dollar.

Soleimani's death is the result of a convergence of US and Israeli interests. With no other way of halting Eurasian integration, Washington can only throw the region into chaos by targeting countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria that are central to the Eurasian project. While Israel has never had the ability or audacity to carry out such an assassination itself, the importance of the Israel Lobby to Trump's electoral success would have influenced his decision, all the more so in an election year .

Trump believed his drone attack could solve all his problems by frightening his opponents, winning the support of his voters (by equating Soleimani's assassination to Osama bin Laden's), and sending a warning to Arab countries of the dangers of deepening their ties with China.

The assassination of Soleimani is the US lashing out at its steady loss of influence in the region. The Iraqi attempt to mediate a lasting peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been scuppered by the US and Israel's determination to prevent peace in the region and instead increase chaos and instability.

Washington has not achieved its hegemonic status through a preference for diplomacy and calm dialogue, and Trump has no intention of departing from this approach.

Washington's friends and enemies alike must acknowledge this reality and implement the countermeasures necessary to contain the madness.


Boundless Energy , 1 minute ago link

Very good article, straight to the point. In fact its much worse. I know is hard to swallow for my US american brother and sisters.

But as sooner you wake up and see the reality as it is, as better chances the US has to survive with honor. Stop the wars around the globe and do not look for excuses. Isnt it already obvious what is going on with the US war machine? How many more examples some people need to wake up?

Noob678 , 8 minutes ago link

For those who love to connect the dots:

Iran Situation from Someone Who Knows Something

Not all said in video above is accurate but the recent events in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa are all related to prevent China from overtaking the zionist hegemonic world and to recolonize China (at least the parasite is trying to hop to China as new host).

Trade war, Huawei, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet ..... the concerted efforts from all zionist controlled media (ZeroHedge included) to slander, smearing, fake news against China should tell you what the Zionists agenda are :)

............

Trump Threatens to Kill Iraqi PM if He Doesn't Cancel China Oil Deal - MoA

The American President's threatened the Iraqi Prime Minister to liquidate him directly with the Minister of Defense. The Marines are the third party that sniped the demonstrators and the security men:

Abdul Mahdi continued:

"After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, so that the third party (Marines snipers) would target the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from the highest structures and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement, so I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement and when the defense minister said that who kills the demonstrators is a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened me and defense minister in the event of talk about the third party."

.........


The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission found George W. Bush guilty of war crimes in absentia for the illegal invasion of Iraq. Bush, **** Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

... ... ..

Thom Paine , 9 minutes ago link

When Iran has nukes, what then Trump?

I think Israel's fear is loss of regional goals if Iran becomes untouchable

TupacShakur , 13 minutes ago link

Empire is lashing out of desperation because we've crossed peak Empire.

Things are going downhill and will get more volatile as we go.

Buckle up folks because the final act will be very nasty.

Stalking Wolf , 12 minutes ago link

Unfortunately, this article makes a lot of sense. The US is losing influence and lashing out carelessly. I hope the rest of the world realizes how detached majority of the citizens within the states are from the federal government. The Federal government brings no good to our nation. None. From the mis management of our once tax revenues to the corrupt Congress who accepts bribes from the highest bidder, it's a rats best that is not only harmful to its own people, but the world at large. USD won't go down without a fight it seems... All empires end with a bang. Be ready

[Feb 09, 2020] Iraqi Prime Minister Was Forced To Resign After Trump Threatened His Life

Jan 08, 2020 | caucus99percent.com


This is a must read This was just a rumor earlier today, but apparently enough people know about it and it's being confirmed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Was Forced To Resign After Trump Threatened His Life

On January 5th, the Iraqi parliament voted on a resolution to expel US troops from the country. In attendance was, caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who, according to reports provided insight into why specifically Iraq was in this situation, and predominantly spoke about threats that came his way from US President Donald Trump and the US policy towards the country.

The following is the summary of reports regarding Abdul-Mehdi's comments during the January 5 vote of the Iraqi Parliament. These reports have been nor officially confirmed nor denied by the Prime Minister office.

Abdul-Mehdi adressed the US hostile actions against the country. For example, the politician reportedly said that the US refused to complete the infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless it is promised 50% of oil revenues. The Prime Minister refused to make the concession.

Then, when the Prime Minister visited China and reached an important agreement to undertake construction of the projects instead of the US, President Donald Trump allegedly called him, telling him to rescind the agreement with China, otherwise there would be massive demonstrations against him, that would force him out of his seat.

HINT : A 50-person Iraqi delegation visited China in 2019 and that protests began on October 1st, observed a religious holiday, and then ramped up once again on October 25th. The flames of the protests were further fanned by mainstream media outlets.

Then, when massive demonstrations materialized against Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Trump once again allegedly called him. The US President allegedly threatened to position US marine snipers "atop the highest buildings," who will target and kill protesters and security forces alike in an attempt to pressure the Prime Minister.

Instead of complying, Adel Abdul-Mahdi refused and handed in his resignation and the US still attempt to pressure him in cancelling the supposed deal with China.

Later on, when the Iraqi Minister of Defense publicly said that a third side was targeting both protesters and security forces alike, Abdul-Mahdi allegedly received a new call from Trump who threatened to kill both him and the Minister of Defense if they kept talking about this "third side".

There is more...

Also this threadreader tweet on the same subject.

Assad said that he finds Trumps brutal honesty refreshing. Instead of hiding behind nicely worded threats Trump just comes out and tells people what he means. up 19 users have voted. --

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump is a GODFATHER and his clique is literally a gangster MAFIA using extortion and operating protection racket

Jan 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kali , Jan 7 2020 19:07 utc | 20

This is how a MAFIA BOSS operates. Trump made an offer Abdul Mahdi couldn't refuse. Trump is a GODFATHER and his clique is literally a gangster MAFIA using extortion and OPERATING A PROTECTION RACKET.

Trump had already asked Iraqi Prime Ministers -twice- if the U.S. could get Iraq's oil as reward for invading and destroying their country. The requests were rejected. Now we learn that Trump also uses gangster methods (ar) to get the oil of Iraq. The talk by the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi happened during the recent parliament session in Iraq (machine translation):

Al-Halbousi, Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, blocked the speech of Mr. Abdul Mahdi in the scheduled session to discuss the decision to remove American forces from Iraq.

At the beginning of the session, Al-Halbousi left the presidential seat and sat next to Mr. Abdul-Mahdi, after his request to cut off the live broadcast of the session, a public conversation took place between the two parties. The voice of Adel Abdul Mahdi was raised.

Mr. Abdul Mahdi spoke with an angry tone, saying:

"The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They are those who refuse to complete building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for giving up 50% of Iraqi oil imports, so I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it, and today Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement."

The American President's threatened the Iraqi Prime Minister to liquidate him directly with the Minister of Defense. The Marines are the third party that sniped the demonstrators and the security men:

Abdul Mahdi continued:

"After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, so that the third party (Marines snipers) would target the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from the highest structures and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement, so I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement and when the defense minister said that who kills the demonstrators is a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened me and defense minister in the event of talk about the third party."

The reliable Based Cat in Iraq seems to confirm the timeline:

TØM CΛT @TomtheBasedCat - 4:00 UTC · Jan 7, 2020
Yes a 50-person delegation visited China in 2019 and then the protests started on October 1st until the Arbaeen dates, then picked up again on Oct 25th. I'm skeptical about the 3rd party but the timing itself was interesting. The flames were fanned by Gulf media and Al-Hurra.

Tom_LX , Jan 7 2020 19:20 utc | 21

A scandal is developing as one consequence of Trump's evil deed after Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi revealed the gangster methods U.S. President Trump used in his attempts to steal Iraq's oil.

Well well well, looks like Trump has been studying Cheney's map lately now that he is not fixated on Kim and accusations of being Putin's Puddle.

https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//dc.html?doc=5746914-National-Security-Archive-Doc-08-Iraqi-Oilfields
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2007/4/21/325872/-

What is described by the PM is typical behavior of a gangster threatening a weaker opponent. Trump had better get some LSD to get him back in touch with Reality.

AriusArmenian , Jan 7 2020 19:30 utc | 24
MoA has done great reporting but this report is astounding.
It is stunning.

But it is the standard operating procedure of US elites. Trump is nothing unusual except for his persona. He gives away the game. Clinton/Bush/Obama/Trump, they are all power mad, vindictive, and vile. The elites that run the two major parties are together in pushing forward to war behind their political posturing.

[Feb 08, 2020] Liz tried to attack Bernie that he has a pac. (and failed)

Feb 08, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

"Would you take @MikeBloomberg 's money?" @ewarren : "SURE!"

The very same night Elizabeth Warren's big message is "I don't take billionaires' money!" Liz has the political instincts of Hilary Clinton. Trump will crush her.
pic.twitter.com/cM85kcPYUn

-- Clark Feels The Bern (@Clarknt67) February 8, 2020

up 10 users have voted.

Raggedy Ann on Sat, 02/08/2020 - 4:50pm

She is so fake.

@humphrey
I can hardly stand to listen to nor look at her. Sheesh!

We got this from 2 faced Liz.

"Would you take @MikeBloomberg 's money?" @ewarren : "SURE!"

The very same night Elizabeth Warren's big message is "I don't take billionaires' money!" Liz has the political instincts of Hilary Clinton. Trump will crush her.
pic.twitter.com/cM85kcPYUn

-- Clark Feels The Bern (@Clarknt67) February 8, 2020

[Feb 08, 2020] The 2020 Democratic Candidates and Foreign Policy

Notable quotes:
"... Sanders and Warren have set themselves apart from the field in having the most credible foreign policy visions and the strongest commitments to bringing our many unnecessary wars to an end. Biden remains wedded to too many outdated and unworkable policies, and just on foreign policy alone Bloomberg is running in the wrong party's primary. Buttigieg is the least formally qualified top presidential candidate on the Democratic side, and his inability or unwillingness to answer most of these questions shows that. If the moderators bother to ask them about foreign policy, the candidates will have another opportunity to address these issues in the debate tonight, and Buttigieg won't be able to get away with saying nothing. ..."
Feb 08, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Most of the candidates' responses were predictable. Biden's North Korea policy would be every bit as unrealistic as Trump's, but he shows even less willingness to negotiate. Bloomberg's positions were unsurprisingly the most hawkish of the bunch. If there was an option for using force, he was for it. All of the candidates were unfortunately in agreement with defining Russia as an enemy.

One of the weirder questions asked the candidates whether they would consider using force to "preempt" a nuclear or missile test by either Iran or North Korea. Only Yang and Warren said no. It isn't clear how many of them were serious and how many were just making fun of the absurdity of the question, but it is disturbing that most of the candidates asked about this would entertain taking military action against another country because of a test. Maybe it doesn't need to be said because it is so obvious, but using force to stop a nuclear or missile test is not "preemption" in any sense of the term. A test is not an attack to be preempted, and taking military action to prevent a test would be nothing less than an unprovoked, illegal act of aggression. To her credit, Warren recognizes how dangerous such an attack would be:

No. Using force against a nuclear power or high-risk adversary carries immense risk for broader conflict. Using force when not necessary can be dangerously counterproductive. Again, I will only use force if there is a vital national security interest at risk, a strategy with clear and achievable objectives, and an understanding and acceptance of the long-term costs.

In general, Warren's answers were the most substantive and careful. She not only answered the questions that were put to her, but she gave some explanation of why she took that position and why it was the appropriate thing to do. She correctly rejected Trump's regime change policy in Venezuela, and acknowledged that "Trump's reckless actions have only further worsened the suffering of the Venezuelan people." On North Korea, she remained open to continuing direct talks with Kim Jong-un, but qualified that by saying, "I would be willing to meet with Kim if it advances substantive negotiations, but not as a vanity project." Her negotiating position was similarly reasonable: "A pragmatic approach to diplomacy requires give and take on both sides, not demands that one side unilaterally disarm first." Both Warren and Sanders correctly criticized Trump for the illegal assassination of Soleimani, and they recognized that the president's escalation had put Americans at greater risk. When asked about taking military action against Iran, Warren rejected the idea of a war with Iran and said the following:

I want to end America's wars in the Middle East, not start a new one with Iran. The litmus test I will use for any military action against Iran is the same that I will use as I consider any military action anywhere in the world. I will not send our troops into harm's way unless there is a vital national security interest at risk, a strategy with clear and achievable objectives, and an understanding and acceptance of the long-term costs. We will hold ourselves to this by recommitting to a simple idea: the constitutional requirement that Congress play a primary role in deciding to engage militarily.

The most revealing set of responses came from Pete Buttigieg in that he gave very few responses and had remarkably little to say about his plans. He failed to answer most of the questions he was asked. Of the 36 individual questions included in the 11 sections, he answered only 17 by my count, and many of those were recycled clips from previous speeches, interviews, and debate statements. Despite leaning heavily on his military service in Afghanistan in his campaigning, he failed to answer all of the questions asked about Afghanistan and the U.S. war there. Buttigieg's failure to respond to most of these questions underscores the former mayor's lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge, and it shows that after almost a year his campaign still doesn't have their foreign policy worked out.

Sanders and Warren have set themselves apart from the field in having the most credible foreign policy visions and the strongest commitments to bringing our many unnecessary wars to an end. Biden remains wedded to too many outdated and unworkable policies, and just on foreign policy alone Bloomberg is running in the wrong party's primary. Buttigieg is the least formally qualified top presidential candidate on the Democratic side, and his inability or unwillingness to answer most of these questions shows that. If the moderators bother to ask them about foreign policy, the candidates will have another opportunity to address these issues in the debate tonight, and Buttigieg won't be able to get away with saying nothing.


MPC a day ago

I don't trust Warren on this, her flimsiness and pandering and propensity to outright lie remind me too much of Romney (who speak of the devil got a backbone for once this week!).

Bernie is definitely the best bet for a softer foreign policy.

=marco01= MPC a day ago
Warren is one of the most honest politicians. Check her Politifact file, she does far better than even Bernie. Of course neither compares to Trump, his Politifact file is a Pants on Fire dumpster fire.

The one thing, and it's only one thing, that causes you to say this is the controversy over her ancestry. But I don't believe she lied, she was raised with the family lore that she had native ancestry and she believed that family lore.

Tom Riddle =marco01= 21 hours ago
If I had a dollar for every white midwesterner who told me that they had Native ancenstry, I wouldn't be typing comments on disqus, that's for sure. My personal internet comment typer would be doing the typing for me as I dictated from my throne of mammon.
=marco01= Tom Riddle 16 hours ago
Sure, but that was her family lore. Apparently it was spoken a lot of when she was growing up.

Her DNA test puts her Native ancestor from around the time of the Revolution, it's easy to see how that could start a family legend.

Tom Riddle =marco01= 14 hours ago
Im not even really disagreeing. Even if she was wrong, I find it wild that these attacks on her are playing well in Trumpville, since white midwesterners (my people) falsely claiming Native heritage is a most common genre.
=marco01= Tom Riddle 3 hours ago
As we've seen with their support of Trump, conservatives don't seem to have much of a problem with hypocrisy.

They'll gleefully attack someone for something they are even more guilty of.

cka2nd 20 hours ago • edited
I wonder why Gabbard failed to respond to the survey (as per a note on the bottom of the Times' page). A missed chance on her part.
Wally 8 hours ago
This is why I'm voting for Warren in my states primary next month. I just hope she's still in the race!
cka2nd Wally 5 hours ago
My guess is that after South Carolina it will be Sanders vs. Bloomberg vs. one of the other more mainstream Dems, either Mayor Pete, Warren (she's been tacking to the mainstream, right on economics and "left" on wokeness) or Biden, in that order. A fall-off in funding will knock everyone else out of the race (or a failure to move the voting needle if Steyer is self-funding).

[Feb 08, 2020] Are the Bells Tolling for Amy, Liz Joe by Pat Buchanan

A Rockefeller and a Rothschild?
Feb 08, 2020 | www.unz.com

... Biden's fundraising has fallen off, and it is unlikely major donors are going to send cash to a candidate who just ran fourth in Iowa and could run fourth or fifth in New Hampshire.

...Klobuchar is now in the second tier in New Hampshire, behind Sanders and Buttigieg, but right alongside Biden and Warren. A third-, fourth- or fifth-place finish would be near-fatal for them all.

...As for Warren, in her battle with Sanders to emerge as the champion of the progressive wing of the party, her third-place finish in Iowa, and her expected third-place finish in New Hampshire, at best, would seem to settle that issue for this election.


Buck Ransom , says: Show Comment February 7, 2020 at 1:38 am GMT

Uncle Joe's presidential road show may be a bore and a bust, but the upcoming expose of Biden & Son International, Inc. should provide a dumpster-load of drama and comedy all summer long. I wonder how many special guest appearances there will be by the Kerrys, the Clintons, the Obamas and other nice folks Joe knows from DC.
Prester John , says: Show Comment February 7, 2020 at 5:29 pm GMT
@Buck Ransom That reminds me. Obama was Biden's putative "boss" during the Ukrainian transaction. What did he know and when did he know it?
follyofwar , says: Show Comment February 7, 2020 at 5:46 pm GMT
@anon IMHO, Bloomberg is ... just one year younger than Bernie, so this is his final rodeo too.

...After the Iowa deep state operation, (it was NOT incompetence), it is clear that the PTB will do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to ensure that Socialist Sanders is not the nominee. Remember, he already has a heart condition. Just sayin'.

The very part-time mayor of South Bend will soon be yesterday's news after South Carolina. Unlike suburban whites, blacks have too much common sense to vote for a homosexual.

Servant of Gla'aki , says: Show Comment February 7, 2020 at 8:39 pm GMT
@BingoBoingo

Mayor Pete's their attempt to groom a new one young, but he seems just as unelectable.

Blacks, men in particular, simply won't vote for Pete Buttigieg. They'll stay home in droves, and more than a few will vote for Trump.

If Buttigieg is the nominee, Election night will look like a Republican landslide straight out of the 1980s.

anon [833] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment February 7, 2020 at 9:22 pm GMT
@follyofwar If it ends up Bloomberg vs Trump what we've got in this country will have transmogrified further from an oligarchy to a full blown aristocracy–certainly a plutocracy–where only billionaires can afford to play king. That race won't be Dems vs GOPers, as both gentlemen have posed as one before switching to the other for simple expedience. Who will be the veep candidates? A Rockefeller and a Rothschild?
KenH , says: Show Comment February 8, 2020 at 12:31 pm GMT
Bootyjudge is just a short, gay and white version of Obama. But he typifies a government bureaucrat in that he's politically left wing, sexually deviant and hates normal, everyday Americans especially if their skin is white.

The DNC knows that if Biden were to win the nomination he'll commit so many gaffes, like burbling about corn pop, his hairy legs and enjoying kids sitting on his lap, among other things, that Trump would have a field day on Twitter and easily win a second term.

So it's shaping up to be a contest between orange Jebulus vs. anal Pete. By the time the presidential debates arrive both candidates will be vowing to crush white nationalism and improve the lives of black and brown people. White people need not apply.

Nevertheless, Trump's cult like almost all white base will cheer madly for a man who claims to represent them in words only, but almost never in deeds.

Zach , says: Show Comment Next New Comment February 8, 2020 at 7:57 pm GMT
@Adrian E. Everyone seems to forget that Sanders will be 79 in 2021...

[Feb 07, 2020] Our Military is Clashing With Russians While Defending Syrian Oil. Why

Feb 07, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Last month, American military forces physically blocked Russian troops from proceeding down a road near the town of Rmelan, Syria. U.S. troops were acting on orders of President Trump, who said back in October that Washington would be "protecting" oil fields currently under control of the anti-Assad, Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces.

Meanwhile, the Russians are acting on behalf of Syrian president Bashar Assad, who says the state is ultimately in control of those fields. While no shots were fired in this case, the next time Moscow's forces might not go so quietly.

U.S. officials offered few details about the January stand-off, but General Alexus Grynkewich, deputy commander of the anti-ISIS campaign, said: "We've had a number of different engagements with the Russians on the ground." Late last month the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported: "Tensions have continued to increase significantly in recent days between U.S. and Russian forces in the northeastern regions of Syria."

Stationed in Syria illegally, with neither domestic nor international legal authority, American personnel risked life and limb to occupy another nation's territory and steal its resources. What is the Trump administration doing?

American policy in Syria has long been stunningly foolish, dishonest, and counterproductive. When the Arab Spring erupted in 2011, Washington first defended Assad. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even called him a "reformer." Then she decided that he should be ousted and demanded that the rest of the world follow Washington's new policy.

[Feb 07, 2020] It should be clear on what the fight is really about in the US. It's about stopping the rise of socialism. Regardless of party affiliation, the elites know what the populace wants and are desperately trying to stop it. I refuse to accept that the Democrats have no idea what they're doing.

Feb 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ian2 , Feb 6 2020 20:02 utc | 65

It should be clear on what the fight is really about in the US. It's about stopping the rise of socialism. Regardless of party affiliation, the elites know what the populace wants and are desperately trying to stop it. I refuse to accept that the Democrats have no idea what they're doing.

I honestly can't see Sanders getting the nomination with all the corruption openly being displayed. I would be pleasantly surprised if Sanders did manage to get it, but he still have to deal with the ELECTORAL COLLEGE (EC). The Electors have the final say. Yes, one can point out that some States have laws forcing Electors to vote what the populace wants, but that is being challenged in court. The debate on whether such laws are unconstitutional or not, remains to be seen. It's too late now to deal with the EC for this election, but people need to be more active in politics at the State level as that's where Electors are (s)elected.

IF Sanders is genuine then he should prepare to run as an independent just to get the EC attention.

ben , Feb 6 2020 22:01 utc | 79

RR @ 14;
Everything in the U$A today, is driven by the unofficial Party of $, and it's reach transcends both Dems & repubs. It's cadre is the majority of the D.C. "rule makers", so we get what they want, not what "we the people" want or need.

They own the banks, MSM media, and even our voting systems.

IMO, to assume one party is to blame for conditions in the U$A is a bit naive.

Question is, can anything the masses do, change the system? Or is rank and file America just along for the ride?

I'm assuming us peons will get what the party of $ wants this November also.

P.S. If any blame is given, it needs to go to the American public, because " you get the kind of Gov. you deserve" through your inactions...

It's a lot like living, death is certain, but until that occurs, I'll move forward trying to mitigate current paradigms.

[Feb 05, 2020] Trump as a middle level gangster

There is a real danger for gangstrism mode of forign policy -- policimakers live in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs...
Feb 05, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Diplomacy, accommodation, compromise, mutuality, the perspectives of others: It is already clear these are among the defining features of 21 st century statecraft. Jealous of its dissipating preeminence, the U.S. proves indifferent to all such considerations. There is no longer even the pretense of deriving authority by way of example, so radical is Washington's preference for coercive might alone. The paradox is not difficult to grasp: In displays of unadorned power we also find the limits of power. The Trump administration's conduct of foreign policy -- primarily but not only in the Mideast -- makes failure and an American comeuppance inevitable.

... ... ...

Many years ago, during the first term of George W. Bush, Karl Rove gave an interview in which he asserted that the U.S. was no longer bound by "discernible reality," as the White House aide put it. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," Rove explained. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."

Rove Warning Overlooked

This singularly arrogant remark was much noted at the time but was thought to reflect only the kookier extremes of the Bush II administration. What a misinterpretation that has proven to be. Rove was effectively warning us that the U.S. had already begun its fundamental shift toward sheer power as the instrument of its foreign policies. This is plain in hindsight.

... These policies share two features. They rest on power alone -- in this they are Karl Rove's dream made flesh -- and they are bound to fail, if they are not already failing.

It is evident now that the European allies will defy U.S. efforts to sabotage NordStream 2 and keep Huawei out of 5–G. London announced last week that it will allow Huawei to participate in its 5–G development program. Germany made a similar decision last autumn.

In the Middle East, it is equally clear that Iran has no intention of buckling under U.S. sanctions and military threats. U.S. influence in the region has already begun to decline since the drone assassination of a top Iranian general on Iraqi soil early last month. The Pentagon now faces popular Iraqi demands to withdraw its troops.

And now the Mideast -- Israel and Palestine. The Trump administration sacrificed all claim to "honest broker" status when it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017 -- a unilateral move that prompted the Palestinians to stop talking to the U.S. about the plan Jared Kushner was by then developing. Of all that is wrong with the new Trump–Kushner plan, the absence of Palestinian input more or less assures that it will prove dead on arrival.

Power alone is power blind. Power blind is certain to fail, for it cannot see its way.

[Feb 05, 2020] Stumbling Into Catastrophe by Daniel McAdams

Feb 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Daniel McAdams via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

There is a real danger for foreign policy advisors and analysts – and especially those they serve – when they are in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs. Needless to say it's even worse when they believe they can create their own reality and invent outcomes out of whole cloth.

Things seldom go as planned in these circumstances.

President Trump was sold a bill of goods on the assassination of Iran's revered military leader, Qassim Soleimani, likely by a cabal around Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the long-discredited neocon David Wurmser. A former Netanyahu advisor and Iraq war propagandist, Wurmser reportedly sent memos to his mentor, John Bolton, while Bolton was Trump's National Security Advisor (now, of course, he's the hero of the #resistance for having turned on his former boss) promising that killing Soleimani would be a cost-free operation that would catalyze the Iranian people against their government and bring about the long-awaited regime change in that country. The murder of Soleimani – the architect of the defeat of ISIS – would "rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the [Iranian] regime depends for stability and survival," wrote Wurmser.

As is most often the case with neocons, he was dead wrong.

The operation was not cost-free. On the contrary. Assassinating Soleimani on Iraqi soil resulted in the Iraqi parliament – itself the product of our "bringing democracy" to the country – voting to expel US forces even as the vote by the people's representatives was roundly rejected by the people who brought the people the people's representatives. In a manner of speaking.

Trump's move had an effect opposite to the one promised by neocons. It did not bring Iranians out to the street to overthrow their government – it catalyzed opposition across Iraq's various political and religious factions to the continued US military presence and further tightened Iraq's relationship with Iran. And short of what would be a catastrophic war initiated by the US (with little or no support from allies), there is not a thing Trump can do about it.

Iran's retaliatory attack on two US bases in Iraq was initially sold by President Trump as merely a pin-prick. No harm, no foul, no injuries. This despite the fact that he must have known about US personnel injured in the attack. The reason for the lie was that Trump likely understands how devastating it would be to his presidency to escalate with Iran. So the truth began to trickle out slowly – 11 US military members were injured, but it was just "like a headache." Now we know that 50 US troops were treated for traumatic brain injury after the attack. This may not be the last of it – but don't count on the mainstream media to do any reporting.

The Iranian FARS news agency reported at the time of the attack that US personnel had been injured and the response by the US government was to completely take that media outlet off the Internet by order of the US Treasury !

Last week the US House voted to cancel the 2002 authorization for war on Iraq and to prohibit the use of funds for war on Iran without Congressional authorization. It is a significant, if largely symbolic, move to rein in the oft-used excuse of the Iraq war authorization for blatantly unrelated actions like the assassination of Soleimani and Obama's thousands of airstrikes on Syria and Iraq .

President Trump has argued that prohibiting funds for military action against Iran actually makes war more likely, as he would be restricted from the kinds of military-strikes-short-of-war like his attack on Syria after the alleged chemical attack in Douma in 2018 (claims which have recently fallen apart ). The logic is faulty and reflects again the danger of believing one's own propaganda. As we have seen from the Iranian military response to the Soleimani assassination, Trump's military-strikes-short-of-war are having a ratchet-like effect rather than a pressure-release or deterrent effect.

As the financial and current events analysis site ZeroHedge put it recently:

[S]ince last summer's "tanker wars", Trump has painted himself into a corner on Iran, jumping from escalation to escalation (to this latest "point of no return big one" in the form of the ordered Soleimani assassination) -- yet all the while hoping to avoid a major direct war. The situation reached a climax where there were "no outs" (Trump was left with two 'bad options' of either back down or go to war).

The Iranians have little to lose at this point and America's European allies are, even if impotent, fed up with the US obsession with Saudi Arabia and Israel as a basis for its Middle East policy.

So why open this essay with a photo of Trump celebrating his dead-on-arrival "Deal of The Century" for Israel and Palestine? Because this is once again a gullible and weak President Trump being led by the nose into the coming Middle East conflagration. Left without even a semblance of US sympathy for their plight, the Palestinians after the roll-out of this "peace" plan will again see that they have no friends outside Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. As Israel continues to flirt with the idea of simply annexing large parts of the West Bank, it is clear that the brakes are off of any Israeli reticence to push for maximum control over Palestinian territory. So what is there to lose?

Trump believes he's advancing peace in the Middle East, while the excellent Mondoweiss website rightly observes that a main architect of the "peace plan," Trump's own son-in-law Jared Kushner, "taunts Palestinians because he wants them to reject his 'peace plan.'" Rejection of the plan is a green light to a war of annihilation on the Palestinians.

It appears that the center may not hold, that the self-referential echo chamber that passes for Beltway "expert" analysis will again be caught off guard in the consequence-free profession that is neocon foreign policy analysis. "Gosh we didn't see that coming!" But the next day they are back on the teevee stations as great experts.

Clouds gathering...


Minamoto , 23 minutes ago link

It is hard to believe that Trump has any confidence in Jared Kushner. Yet, he does enough to go public with a one-sided plan developed without Palestinian input.

francis scott falseflag , 41 minutes ago link

a real danger for foreign policy advisors and analysts – and especially those they serve – when they are in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs.

The same is true of the economists and financial analysts who live in the bubble of the NSYE and the echo chamber of Manhattan. All of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs.

Ruler , 1 hour ago link

The problem all incompetent leaders have, is seeing how their opponents see them.

Bokkenrijder , 1 hour ago link

If Trump continues to be 'dumb' enough to consistently hire these people and consistently listen to them, and if his supporters continue to be dumb enough to consistently believe all the lies and excuses, then Trump and his supporters are 100% involved in the neoCON.

RafterManFMJ , 1 hour ago link

Dude, it's 666D chess!

The Real John Bolton

[Feb 04, 2020] The Democrats have embraced identity politics which will destroy any chance of electoral success in my opinion

Feb 04, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Furthermore, first generation immigrants don't want to replicate their culture, they want the American dream. Their grandchildren might want to "identify" as hispanic, etc., but not their parents or grandparents. Identity politics only plays in the white middle classes.

Posted by: walrus | 02 February 2020 at 04:57 PM

[Jan 31, 2020] Tucker: DNC worried about Sanders becoming nominee - YouTube

They actually don't: Sanders proved to be more of a sheepdog then a real candidate in 2016: he betrayed his voters They are afraid of Tulsi, though
Money quote "Democratic Party is a collection of various interest group that actually hate each other"
Jan 31, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Charles Hull , 2 weeks ago

🤔 If she doesn't want to be called a liar, on national TV, she should stop lying, on national TV.

Karinda Tiweyang , 6 days ago

"Sexist, not SEXY, sexist" hahahhaha why was this necessary. Still funny af.

Flagrus , 1 week ago

That moment when a fox News treats Bernie fairer and more honest than his own party.

[Jan 30, 2020] DNC In Disarray After Chairman's Secret Golden Parachute Revealed

Jan 30, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

DNC In Disarray After Chairman's Secret Golden Parachute Revealed by Tyler Durden Thu, 01/30/2020 - 17:20 0 SHARES The perpetually broke , deck-stacking DNC has been thrown into disarray just days before the Iowa caucus after Buzzfeed revealed that a cadre of top officials at the Democratic National Committee approved, then concealed a 'generous exit package for the party chair, Tom Perez, and two top lieutenants,' which has left Democrats 'confounded over the weekend by the optics and timing of the decision on the eve of the presidential primary."

The proposal, put forward as an official DNC resolution during a meeting of the party's budget and finance committee last Friday, would have arranged for Perez and two of his top deputies, CEO Seema Nanda and deputy CEO Sam Cornale, to each receive a lump-sum bonus equaling four months' salary within two weeks of the time they eventually leave their roles .

Senior DNC officers, including members of Perez's own executive committee, learned of the compensation package after its approval, through the rumor mill, setting off a furious exchange of emails and texts over the weekend to determine what had been proposed, and by whom . - Buzzfeed

And while four-months salary might be more of a 'bronze parachute', Perez rejected the "extra compensation" package for himself and his two lieutenants in an email to officials .

Perez says he will serve through the end of the 2020 election, while all three officials have denied having any prior knowledge of, or involvement in the pay package resolution .

"One-hundred percent of our resources are going towards beating Donald Trump," said DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa, who added "DNC leadership will not accept any extra compensation recommended by the budget committee, which didn't operate at the direction of DNC leadership. The resolution was crafted by the budget committee and did not involve the Chair, CEO, or Deputy CEO."

Taking the fall for the resolution are two members of the DNC's budget and finance committee - Daniel Halpern and Chris Korge, who described it as the first step in a "smooth transition" for Perez.

Halperin, an anti-minimum wage lobbyist , was appointed by Perez in 2017. He previously chaired Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's 2009 moyoral campaign, and was a trustee for Barack Obama's 2008 inaugural committee.

Chris Korge is a Florida attorney hired in May of 2019. He was one of the top fundraisers for Andrew Gillum, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and served as the co-chairman for the Kerry Edwards campaign in 2004.

For years, the 64-year-old attorney, developer and one-time county hall lobbyist has been an important fundraiser for Democrats. He has raised millions for both Hillary and Bill Clinton, served as national co-chairman for Kerry Edwards Victory in 2004 and this year was co-chairman of Miami's unsuccessful bid to bring the Democratic convention to South Florida next summer. - Miami Herald

According to Buzzfeed , Halpern and Korge both said the resolution was above-board and a common business practice.

The resolution, which only applies to the 2021 transition, states that the outgoing chair, CEO, and deputy CEO will help facilitate donor and "stakeholder" relations, and convey "institutional knowledge" to the next chair, but is less specific about the requirements of the transition than the details of the compensation package: a lump sum of four months' pay, paid within two weeks, unless either Perez, Nanda, or Cornale is terminated for "gross misconduct."

On Tuesday, Halpern said the resolution was meant to serve only as a "nonbinding" starting point to ensure "continuity" between Perez's tenure and the next party chair . - Buzzfeed

Top Democrats within the DNC's leadership speaking on condition of anonymity said that they were shocked to learn of the compensation package on the eve of a presidential primary , amid a massive fundraising defecit .

"I think it is completely short-sighted and really stupid," said one senior official.

The package would have paid Perez around $69,000, Nanda around $61,000, and Cornale $39,000.


Wakesetter , 5 minutes ago link

Money must be tight if $70K is a issue. The internal polling for the DNC is a train wreck. Panic.

NeitherStirredNorShaken , 6 minutes ago link

The infighting is indicative of the ongoing DNC implosion. These parties, like the entire world's governments, were terminated long ago. NOBODY wants or needs the fake drama bullsh*t. If it's not on one side or the other it's on both to distract everybody. Like the ongoing fake impeachment fraud. Chump was finished day one on the job. And even if not certainly the public conspiring with both parties to commit sedition and treason after Parkland ensured it.

pHObuk0wrEHob71Suwr2 , 16 minutes ago link

Tom Perez - member of the Obama Transition Project's Agency Review Working Group responsible for the justice, health and human services, veterans affairs, and housing and urban development agencies. He is Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation under Governor Martin O'Malley.

He worked in a variety of civil rights positions at the Department of Justice, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno.

He also served as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Secretary Donna Shalala, and as Special Counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy. From 2001 until 2007, he was Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law, and is an adjunct faculty member at the George Washington School of Public Health.

Walter Melon , 17 minutes ago link

Golden parachutes for a few years' work.

Even if it is only 4 months, apparently his annual salary of $276,000 wasn't enough for him to save up anything.

All meals paid for, all suits paid for, all transportation paid for ...

5fingerdiscount , 20 minutes ago link

$69 grand?

That's not even a parachute.

That's like jumping into the air and landing on the ground.

[Jan 29, 2020] Campaign Promises and Ending Wars

Highly recommended!
Jan 29, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

lizabeth Warren wrote an article outlining in general terms how she would bring America's current foreign wars to an end. Perhaps the most significant part of the article is her commitment to respect Congress' constitutional role in matters of war:

We will hold ourselves to this by recommitting to a simple idea: the constitutional requirement that Congress play a primary role in deciding to engage militarily. The United States should not fight and cannot win wars without deep public support. Successive administrations and Congresses have taken the easy way out by choosing military action without proper authorizations or transparency with the American people. The failure to debate these military missions in public is one of the reasons they have been allowed to continue without real prospect of success [bold mine-DL].

On my watch, that will end. I am committed to seeking congressional authorization if the use of force is required. Seeking constrained authorizations with limited time frames will force the executive branch to be open with the American people and Congress about our objectives, how the operation is progressing, how much it is costing, and whether it should continue.

Warren's commitment on this point is welcome, and it is what Americans should expect and demand from their presidential candidates. It should be the bare minimum requirement for anyone seeking to be president, and any candidate who won't commit to respecting the Constitution should never be allowed to have the powers of that office. The president is not permitted to launch attacks and start wars alone, but Congress and the public have allowed several presidents to do just that without any consequences. It is time to put a stop to illegal presidential wars, and it is also time to put a stop to open-ended authorizations of military force. Warren's point about asking for "constrained authorizations with limited time frames" is important, and it is something that we should insist on in any future debate over the use of force. The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs are still on the books and have been abused and stretched beyond recognition to apply to groups that didn't exist when they were passed so that the U.S. can fight wars in countries that don't threaten our security. Those need to be repealed as soon as possible to eliminate the opening that they have provided the executive to make war at will.

Michael Brendan Dougherty is unimpressed with Warren's rhetoric:

But what has Warren offered to do differently, or better? She's made no notable break with the class of experts who run our failing foreign policy. Unlike Bernie Sanders, and like Trump or Obama, she hasn't hired a foreign-policy staff committed to a different vision. And so her promise to turn war powers back to Congress should be considered as empty as Obama's promise to do the same. Her promise to bring troops home would turn out to be as meaningless as a Trump tweet saying the same.

We shouldn't discount Warren's statements so easily. When a candidate makes specific commitments about ending U.S. wars during a campaign, that is different from making vague statements about having a "humble" foreign policy. Bush ran on a conventional hawkish foreign policy platform, and there were also no ongoing wars for him to campaign against, so we can't say that he ever ran as a "dove." Obama campaigned against the Iraq war and ran on ending the U.S. military presence there, and before his first term was finished almost all U.S. troops were out of Iraq. It is important to remember that he did not campaign against the war in Afghanistan, and instead argued in support of it. His subsequent decision to commit many more troops there was a mistake, but it was entirely consistent with what he campaigned on. In other words, he withdrew from the country he promised to withdraw from, and escalated in the country where he said the U.S. should be fighting. Trump didn't actually campaign on ending any wars, but he did talk about "bombing the hell" out of ISIS, and after he was elected he escalated the war on ISIS. His anti-Iranian obsession was out in the open from the start if anyone cared to pay attention to it. In short, what candidates commit to doing during a campaign does matter and it usually gives you a good idea of what a candidate will do once elected.

If Warren and some of the other Democratic candidates are committing to ending U.S. wars, we shouldn't assume that they won't follow through on those commitments because previous presidents proved to be the hawks that they admitted to being all along. Presidential candidates often tell us exactly what they mean to do, but we have to be paying attention to everything they say and not just one catchphrase that they said a few times. If voters want a more peaceful foreign policy, they should vote for candidates that actually campaign against ongoing wars instead of rewarding the ones that promise and then deliver escalation. But just voting for the candidates that promise an end to wars is not enough if Americans want Congress to start doing its job by reining in the executive. If we don't want presidents to run amok on war powers, there have to be political consequences for the ones that have done that and there needs to be steady pressure on Congress to take back their role in matters of war. Voters should select genuinely antiwar candidates, but then they also have to hold those candidates accountable once they're in office.

[Jan 27, 2020] Warren as an extremely weak, incoherent politician: one example if her approach to student debt problem

There is a huge difference between extremely bright students and medicate ones. Bright students are the future of the society and need to be nurtures and helped in any way possible for the range of specialties that are important (STEM is one example)
There is difference between the degree in computer science and the degree in some obscure nationality studies (let's say Eastern European studies; few people that are needed can be paid by intelligence agencies ;-) Obscure areas should be generally available only to well to do students, who can pay for their education.
Like is the case with alcoholism, some student debt is the result of bad personal choices.
Notable quotes:
"... Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times, ..."
"... "My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, so she doesn't have any student debt. Am I going to get my money back?" ..."
"... So, we end up paying for people who didn't save any money, then those who did the right thing get screwed, ..."
"... "We did the right thing and we get screwed," ..."
"... "Look, we build a future going forward by making it better. By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn't start it last week for you or last month for you," ..."
"... "We don't build an America by saddling our kids with debt. We build an America by saying we're going to open up those opportunities for kids to be able to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt." ..."
"... Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 19, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) ..."
"... "I'll direct the Secretary of Education to use their authority to begin to compromise and modify federal student loans consistent with my plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of student loan borrowers (about 42 million people)," ..."
"... A scholarship system awarding free tuition to the top 5% of college applicants (NOT biased by race, gender, etc) who apply to the U.S.'s best STEM programs, hell yes! Free tuition for future Democrat voters, f^%k that! ..."
Jan 27, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) defended her plan to pay off college loans after being confronted by a father in Iowa in an exchange that went viral.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is confronted by a father who worked double shifts to pay for his daughters education and wants to know if he will get his money back. pic.twitter.com/t2GGbAnG08

-- Eddie Donovan (@EddieDonovan) January 21, 2020

The father approached Warren, a leading Democratic presidential contender, after a campaign event in Grimes.

"My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, so she doesn't have any student debt. Am I going to get my money back?" the man asked Warren.

"Of course not," Warren replied.

" So, we end up paying for people who didn't save any money, then those who did the right thing get screwed, " the father told her.

He then described a friend who makes more money but didn't save up while he worked double shifts to save up to pay for his daughter's college.

The father became upset, accusing Warren of laughing.

"We did the right thing and we get screwed," he added before walking off.

In an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on Friday, Warren was asked about the exchange.

Last night, a father who saved for his daughter's college education approached @SenWarren and challenged her proposed student loan forgiveness plan. @TonyDokoupil asks the senator for her response: pic.twitter.com/jLUXPqChC6

-- CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 24, 2020

"Look, we build a future going forward by making it better. By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn't start it last week for you or last month for you," Warren said.

Pressed on whether she was saying "tough luck" to people like the father, she said "No." She then recounted how she got to go to college despite coming from a poor family.

"There was a $50 a semester option for me. I was able to go to college and become a public school teacher because America had invested in a $50 a semester option for me. Today that's not available," she said.

"We don't build an America by saddling our kids with debt. We build an America by saying we're going to open up those opportunities for kids to be able to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 19, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

One of Warren's plans is to cancel student loans. According to her website , on her first day as president she would cancel student loan debt as well as give free tuition to public colleges and technical schools and ban for-profit colleges from getting aid from the federal government.

"I'll direct the Secretary of Education to use their authority to begin to compromise and modify federal student loans consistent with my plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of student loan borrowers (about 42 million people)," Warren wrote.

"I'll also direct the Secretary of Education to use every existing authority available to rein in the for-profit college industry, crack down on predatory student lending, and combat the racial disparities in our higher education system."

Sounds an awful lot like the dad above is right those that did the "right thing" are gonna get "screwed."


csmith , 1 minute ago link

Warren's debt forgiveness plan will turbo-boost the increases in college costs. It is the EXACTLY backwards remedy for out-of-control college costs.

mtndds , 2 minutes ago link

Warren you bitch, I paid back my student loans responsibly by working my *** off (140k) and now you want to give others a free ride? I sure hope that I get a refund for all that money I paid back.

moron counter , 7 minutes ago link

Obama did this kinds thing with housing. I got outbid by 100k on a house. The other bidder who got it didn't make his house payments so Obama restructured his loan knocking off 100k from his loan and giving him a 1% interest rate on it. He again didn't make his payments and got it restructured again but I didn't hear the terms of that one.

chelydra , 12 minutes ago link

If student loan debt is such a crisis, force every university to use their precious endowment funds to underwrite those loans AND let those loans get discharged in bankruptcy. Maybe then those schools would start to question whether having a dozen "Diversity Deans" each being paid $100k+ salaries is really worth the expense (among other things).

Imagine That , 12 minutes ago link

A scholarship system awarding free tuition to the top 5% of college applicants (NOT biased by race, gender, etc) who apply to the U.S.'s best STEM programs, hell yes! Free tuition for future Democrat voters, f^%k that!

FightingDinosaur , 15 minutes ago link

The pissed off dad in this story has only one person to be pissed off at: himself, for being stupid. Understand something about college degrees: 90% of them, including majors like accounting, are not worth the paper they are printed on. Anyone who works double shifts to pay for anyone's college degree, even their own, is stupid. Look at why college costs so much: go to any state, and you'll see that 70% or more of the highest paid state employees are employed by public colleges and universities. You need to play these sons of bitches at their game, use their funny money to pay for the degree, and walk away. If you play the way these sons of bitches tell you to play, you get what you deserve.

I used their funny money to get a degree that wasn't worth the paper it was printed on and walked away. I don't give a **** if the sons of bitches grab my tax refund. Why? Because I have my withholdings set up so they get next to nothing in April. It costs the sons of bitches more to print up the garnishment letter and send it to me than what they're stealing from me. Guess what I use for an address? P.O. Box (can't serve a summons to a ghost).

If you're going to do what stupid, pissed off dad did, and work double shifts, you need to be trading out of all that funny money you're being paid for those double shifts, and trading into personal economic leverage (gold first, then silver). Instead of having bedrock to build multi-generational wealth, he has a daughter with a degree in pouring coffee, and nothing else to show for it. He only has himself to blame for drinking the Kool Aid. I can grab overtime every Saturday at my job if I want it, and every last penny of that OT is traded out of funny money and into gold ASAP.

Understand the US real estate market: the only reason it did not die five years ago was because we welcomed rich foreigners to come in and buy real estate to protect their wealth. We've stopped doing that, we have an over-abundance of domestic sellers and a severe shortage of domestic buyers. It's also where history says you need to be if you want to build multi-generational wealth. Warren actually needs to go further than what she's proposing. Not only does she need to discharge 100% of those balances by EO, she also needs to refund all those tax refunds stolen under false pretenses. Anything less, and we are guaranteed, for the next 40 years, to have a real estate market and economy which resembles Japan since 1989.

Why do I buy gold? So I can play people like Warren at their game. I'll take whatever loan discharge she gives me, and have lots of leverage in reserve to take advantage of what will be a once in a lifetime real estate fire sale.

Centurion9.41 , 13 minutes ago link

Here's an idea...

Make those who want to be bailed out have to pay the bailout back by working every non-holiday Saturday (at the minimum wage rate) for the government and citizens (e.g who need work done around the house, take care of the elderly - in the bathroom) until the debt is paid back. AND let those who have not taken the debt relief supervise them - getting paid by the government at the same rate, minimum wage. 🦞🦞🦞🦞🦞

gatorengineer , 13 minutes ago link

For a decent college it's between 35-70k a year.... Why? 300k a year library professors, if it weren't for tenure the problem would largely he self correcting as rntrillments drop...

southpaw47 , 18 minutes ago link

My how times have changed. My son was a college grad circa 1996. He did the JUCO thing for 1 1/2 years , worked a part time job for the duration, and picked up an A S while making the President's list. I aid, out of pocket all educational expenses while he lived at home and provided for a nice lifestyle while he was in school. As promised, he finished his education, out of state, which I paid for all along the way. 2 more years, he graduated, on the Pres list, and picked up his B S. No student debt, in his words, was one of the the greatest gifts. Today he is debt free, (so am I ), and he is a very happy , financially secure ( until the world goes upside down) mature adult. Hey Lizzie, send me a check.

Snaffew , 27 minutes ago link

They are all ignoring the real problem...the Federal mandated system of the guaranteed student loan program. Anyone with a pulse can get a guaranteed student loan, thus creating a massive rise in college admissions. The colleges are guaranteed the money for these loans, while the lender (the US gov't) is not guaranteed to be paid back by the students receiving these loans,. this created a fool proof, risk free ability for colleges and universities across the country to jack up their tuition costs at over a 5:1 ratio of income growth over the last 25 years. The problem is the program itself, students need to earn their ability to enroll in college through hard work and good grades. Currently, any moron with a high school diploma can go to college on a guaranteed student loan program and the colleges are more than willing to take on any idiot that wants to go to school despite their aspirations, work ethics, intelligence, achievements, etc. The universities have been given a blank check to expand their campuses, drastically inflate the salaries and pensions of professors and administrators of these schools all at the expense of this guaranteed "free" money from the government that only achieved an immense amount of the population going to overpriced schools in order to get a diploma in useless pursuits like african american studies, philosophy, creative writing, music, criminal justice, arts, basket weaving, etc.. The skyrocketing costs of colleges and student debt is the direct result of this miserably failed system of the guaranteed student loan. The majority of which have no business going to higher education because they don't have the aptitude, work ethic and intelligence necessary to actually receive a degree in anything that benefits the economy and themselves going forward. 30 years ago the average state college admission was roughly $4k a year for a good state school, today it is roughly $20k or far more. Meanwhile, the average income has gone up a meaningless amount. Get rid of the guaranteed student loan program and make the colleges responsible for accepting the responsibility of the loans for their students. I guarantee enrollment will decrease and costs will decline making it much more affordable for the truly responsible and aspiring student to achieve their dreams of a degree without a $250k loan needed for completion nor the lifelong strain of debt on their future incomes. The colleges are raping the system the same as all these shoestring companies take advantage of the medicaid system and give hovarounds and walking canes, and hearing aids for free because the gov't reimburses them at wildly inflated prices under some federally passed mandate. The system is the problem, eliminating the debt will only exacerbate it and cost taxpayers trillions more each and every year as "free" college will now entice every moron with a heartbeat the ability to go to outrageously priced schools with no skin in the game on the taxpayer's dime. Elizabeth Warren is an idiot....someone needs to have a sit down with her and discuss this rationale in her luxurious, state of the art TeePee.

Balance-Sheet , 11 minutes ago link

While you are correct corrupting academics with huge payoffs is how you secure their votes and the votes of most of the 'students' for decades to come.

Any group or industry can be paid off and you might think of the system as a set of interlocking payoffs until you get out to the margins and the fringes where the cash and benefits are a lot thinner.

bkwaz4 , 25 minutes ago link

Everyone who continues to pay taxes to these neo-Bolsheviks is going to get screwed. The only alternative is to stop funding these criminals completely.

johnduncan78 , 25 minutes ago link

What a sorry presidential canditate! She flat out LIED about being native american to get FREE college. And now this. Where has America gone????????? Socialism sems to be what most want nowadays. It has NEVER EVER worked anywhere in the world at any time! If yoou think therwise, just name ONE countryn it has worked in ! What a lying bunch the democrats are..........................

Lie_Detector , 27 minutes ago link

Warren Defends Plan To Cancel Student Debt

So all if us have to pay for it. Why did I have to pay for University and College in the 1970's if I wanted to further my education and now that I am older I have to foot the bill for the young people of today? Pay DOUBLE? (just to buy votes for traitors?)

I think NOT! Take your theft from the people, to buy votes of everyone from young people to illegal criminals to outright criminals in prison to dead people and resign before we decide to arrest you.

Democrats, HANG IT UP! We are NOT paying for YOUR illegitimate votes.

Resist-Socialist-Dem-Lies , 24 minutes ago link

Notice too how all their "we're going to wipe out your debt!" promises never seem to include the big "endowments" of these fascist colleges that jacked up tuition 1000% over what it used to cost.

No, those creepy commie profs and their freaky administrators get to keep their big TAX FREE endowments AND their big salaries.

Big Gov by Sanders/Warren don't seem to think that's obscene.

Lie_Detector , 22 minutes ago link

You are absolutely correct. 45 years ago you could almost work part time and actually PAY your way through college. Today you almost need a physicians salary to pay for these OVERPRICED sewers filled with leftist propaganda.

moron counter , 27 minutes ago link

It's obvious that Warren doesn't teach economics or even math. They weren't smart enough when they took out the loans and they are not good with paying their bills so move the goal posts to bail them out. Has anyone given the thought that maybe they shouldn't have gone to college at all. Sounds like they will all work for the government anyways.

[Jan 27, 2020] There's a recent Foreign Affairs piece that also compares the US to Athens in abusing its financial clout and thereby alienating allies

Jan 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

occupatio , Jan 27 2020 23:46 utc | 81

Review of history: Bullies have a limited life as do Reserve Currencies all things end.
https://www.zerohedge.com/article/history-worlds-reserve-currency-ancient-greece-today
Posted by: Likklemore | Jan 27 2020 20:14 utc | 49

There's a recent Foreign Affairs piece that also compares the US to Athens in abusing its financial clout and thereby alienating allies.

The Twilight of America's Financial Empire

occupatio , Jan 27 2020 23:47 utc | 82

proper link:
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2020-01-24/twilight-americas-financial-empire

[Jan 27, 2020] The Emergence of Progressive Foreign Policy

This blabbing about authoritarian Russia and China greatly diminishes the value of this article. The author is Warren foreign policy advisor. Probably she should find a better advisor.
Compare this blabbing with Putin stance about strengthening of the role of the UN.
Notable quotes:
"... Fourth, the new progressive foreign policy is highly skeptical of military interventions, and opposed to democracy promotion by force. This does not mean that progressives are unwilling or would be unable to use force when it is necessary. But after 17 years of war in the Middle East, they do not share the aggressive posture that has characterized the post-Cold War era. Some are skeptical because they think interventions cannot succeed. Others emphasize the potential for backlash and making the situation worse. Still others hold that stable, sustainable democracy cannot be imposed from abroad but must emerge organically. ..."
"... Fifth, the new progressive foreign policy seeks to reshape the military budget by both cutting the budget overall and reallocating military spending. This should not be surprising. The skepticism of intervention suggests military budgets do not need to be as big as they have been in an era when the goal was to be able to fight two regional wars simultaneously. The centrality of economics to a progressive foreign policy further explains this position; military spending should partly be reallocated to cyber and other technologies that are deeply integrated with the economy and likely to be crucial in future conflicts. ..."
Jan 27, 2020 | warontherocks.com
end of history " and America's " unipolar moment ." And both camps have undergone a serious reckoning after the Afghanistan, Iraq, and forever wars, as well as the global financial crisis calling into question neoliberal economic policies -- namely, deregulation, liberalization, privatization, and austerity. Prominent foreign policy advocates have quite publicly engaged in soul-searching as they confronted these changes, and debates about the future of foreign policy abound.

The emergence of a distinctively progressive approach to foreign policy is perhaps the most interesting -- and most misunderstood -- development in these debates. In speeches and articles, politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders have outlined an approach to foreign policy that does not fall along the traditional fault-lines of realist versus idealist or neoconservative versus liberal internationalist (disclosure: I have been a longtime advisor to Sen. Warren). Their speeches come alongside an increasing number of articles exploring the contours of a progressive foreign policy. Even those who might not consider themselves progressive are sounding similar themes .

From this body of work, it is now possible to sketch out the framework of a distinctively progressive approach to foreign policy. While its advocates, like those in other foreign policy camps, discuss a wide range of issues -- from climate change to reforming international institutions -- at the moment, five themes mark this emerging approach as a specific framework for foreign policy.

First, progressive foreign policy breaks the silos between domestic and foreign policy and between international economic policy and foreign policy. It places far greater emphasis on how foreign policy impacts the United States at home -- and particularly on how foreign policy (including international economic policy) has impacted the domestic economy. To be sure, there have always been analysts and commentators who recognized these interrelationships. But progressive foreign policy places this at the center of its analysis rather than seeing it as peripheral. The new progressive foreign policy takes the substance of both domestic and international economic policies seriously, and its adherents will not support economic policies on foreign policy grounds if they exacerbate economic inequality at home. For example, the argument that trade deals must be ratified on national security grounds even though they have problematic distributional consequences does not carry much weight for progressives who believe that an equitable domestic economy is the foundation of national power.

Second, progressive foreign policy holds that one of the important threats to American democracy at home is nationalist oligarchy (or, alternatively, authoritarian capitalism ) abroad. Countries like Russia and China are not simply authoritarian governments, and neither can their resurgence and assertion of power be interpreted as merely great power competition. The reason is that their economic systems integrate economic and political power. Crony/state capitalism is not a bug, it is the central feature. In a global society, economic interrelationships weaponize economic power into political power . China, for example, already uses its economic power as leverage in political disputes with other Asian countries. Its growing share of global GDP is one of the most consequential facts of the 21st century. As a result of these dynamics, progressives are also highly skeptical of a foreign policy based on the premise that the countries of the world will all become neoliberal democracies. Instead, they take seriously the risks that come from economic integration with nationalist oligarchies.

Third, the new progressive foreign policy values America's alliances and international agreements, but not because it thinks that such alliances and rules can convert nationalist oligarchies into liberal democracies. Rather, alliances should be based on common values or common goals, and, going forward, they will be critical to balancing and countering the challenges from nationalist oligarchies. Progressives are thus far more skeptical of alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia and far more interested in reinforcing and deepening ties with allies like Japan -- and are concerned about the erosion of alliances like NATO from within.

[Jan 27, 2020] Criminal enforcement of excessively rapid financial and capital market liberalization in Russia by Harvard mafia was probably the single most important cause of the crisis

I thinks Summers played especially sinister role in this crime syndicate.
Jan 27, 2020 | newrepublic.com

This shouldn't have been too much of a surprise, as neoliberal policies had already wreaked havoc around the world. Looking back at the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the economist Joseph Stiglitz comments that "excessively rapid financial and capital market liberalization was probably the single most important cause of the crisis"; he also notes that after the crisis, the International Monetary Fund's policies "exacerbated the downturns."

Neoliberals pushed swift privatization in Russia after the Cold War, alongside a restrictive monetary policy. The result was a growing barter economy, low exports, and asset-stripping, as burgeoning oligarchs bought up state enterprises and then moved their money out of the country.

... ... ...

Rising economic inequality and the creation of monopolistic megacorporations also threaten democracy. In study after study, political scientists have shown that the U.S. government is highly responsive to the policy preferences of the wealthiest people, corporations, and trade associations -- and that it is largely unresponsive to the views of ordinary people. The wealthiest people, corporations, and their interest groups participate more in politics, spend more on politics, and lobby governments more. Leading political scientists have declared that the U.S. is no longer best characterized as a democracy or a republic but as an oligarchy -- a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

The neoliberal embrace of individualism and opposition to "the collective society," as Margaret Thatcher put it, also had perverse consequences for social and political life. Humans are social animals. But neoliberalism rejects both the medieval approach of having fixed social classes based on wealth and power and the modern approach of having a single, shared civic identity based on participation in a democratic community. The problem is that amid neoliberalism's individualistic rat race, people still need to find meaning somewhere in their lives. And so there has been a retreat to tribalism and identity groups, with civic associations replaced by religious, ethnic, or other cultural affiliations.

To be sure, race, gender, culture, and other aspects of social life have always been important to politics. But neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. Self-government requires uniting through our commonalities and aspiring to achieve a shared future. When individuals fall back onto clans, tribes, and us-versus-them identities, the political community gets fragmented. It becomes harder for people to see each other as part of that same shared future. Demagogues rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society.

The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy. Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity. Of course, the result is to leave in place political and economic structures that harm the very groups that inclusionary neoliberals claim to support.

The foreign policy adventures of the neoconservatives and liberal internationalists haven't fared much better than economic policy or cultural politics. The U.S. and its coalition partners have been bogged down in the war in Afghanistan for 18 years and counting. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is a liberal democracy, nor did the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq lead to a domino effect that swept the Middle East and reformed its governments for the better. Instead, power in Iraq has shifted from American occupiers to sectarian militias, to the Iraqi government, to Islamic State terrorists, and back to the Iraqi government -- and more than 100,000 Iraqis are dead. Or take the liberal internationalist 2011 intervention in Libya. The result was not a peaceful transition to stable democracy but instead civil war and instability, with thousands dead as the country splintered and portions were overrun by terrorist groups. On the grounds of democracy promotion, it is hard to say these interventions were a success. And for those motivated to expand human rights around the world, it is hard to justify these wars as humanitarian victories -- on the civilian death count alone.

[Jan 27, 2020] Basically the NWO mafia saw that there was an opportunity to loot the place and they did it gaining ownership and stripping everything of value out of the place.

Jan 27, 2020 | www.unz.com

Miro23 , says: Show Comment January 26, 2020 at 8:38 am GMT

So what happened following the dissolution of the Soviet Union?

The United States dispatched a cabal of cutthroat economists to Moscow to assist in the "shock therapy" campaign that collapsed the social safety net, savaged pensions, increased unemployment, homelessness, poverty, and alcoholism by many orders of magnitude, accelerated the slide to privatization that fueled a generation of voracious oligarchs, and sent the real economy plunging into an excruciating long-term depression.

Basically the NWO mafia saw that there was an opportunity to loot the place and they did it – gaining ownership – and stripping everything of value out of the place.

If the US public had the sense to realize it, it's the same as is currently happening to them.

MLK , says: Show Comment January 26, 2020 at 4:53 pm GMT

At the same time Washington's agents were busy looting Moscow, NATO was moving its troops, armored divisions and missile sites closer to Russia's border in clear violation of promises that were made to Mikhail Gorbachev not to move its military "one inch east".

Yeah, yeah . . . This reminds me of that line from Animal House: "Face it Kent, you fucked up. You trusted us."

This was small beer in term's of betrayals the Russians have endured. What I've always liked about them is that they aren't bellyachers, like the Iranians are at the moment.

Ignore Western Media on Putin. He remains The Indispensable Man for Russia so he isn't going anywhere for the moment. I'm sure he'd love to become the Russian version of Deng but that's going to take a lot of preparatory work for him to get there.

panzerfaust , says: Show Comment January 26, 2020 at 5:04 pm GMT
@Huxley Very true and this idea that man sets himself at the top of the creation is exactly the philosophy of "Human Rights", the Masonic model imposed through the UN to the whole world.
This ideology was launched by Freemasonry during the "Enlightenment", in the 18th century. It produced the Masonic French Revolution, the Masonic US republic and later the concept of "democracy".
Published in 1899 by Don Felix Sarda Y Salvany: Liberalism is a sin. This is from a Catholic priest, but we all share the same enemy.
http://www.liberalismisasin.com/
NPleeze , says: Show Comment January 26, 2020 at 6:08 pm GMT
@9/11 Inside job What cult of personality? There isn't one. People mostly like the decisions he makes, not because he makes them, but because they agree with them.

As to Chabad Lubavitch, Putin is a politician – he mingles with Christians, Jews and Muslims. As evil as Chabad Lubavitch is, Putin also mingles with the Saudi Barbarians. It's hardly proof they control him.

Go find something real, you are making a fool of yourself spreading baseless propaganda. Next you will tell us about the $583 trillion he has stashed away, so he can use it, secretly, after he retires from his life-long dictatorship.

Anonymous [242] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm GMT
@Tucker Well said. The US and Israel are by far the most blatantly thuggish players on the international political stage... Must be a coincidence .

[Jan 25, 2020] This Kabuki theater with Schiff in a major role is outright silly by likbez

Jan 22, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , January 25, 2020 3:10 pm

While I agree that the removal of Trump might be slightly beneficial (Pence-Pompeo duo initially will run scared), this Kabuki theater with Schiff in a major role is outright silly.

Adam Schiff physically resembles a typical prosperity theology preacher -- a classic modern American snake oil salesman. And with his baseless accusations and the fear to touch real issues , he is even worse than that -- he looks outright silly even for the most brainwashed part of the USA electorate ;-)

As he supported the Iraq war, he has no right to occupy any elected office. He probably should be prosecuted as a war criminal.

Realistically Schiff should be viewed as yet another intelligence agency stooge, a neocon who is funded by military contractors such as Northrop Grumman, which sells missiles to Ukraine.

The claim that Trump is influenced by Russia is a lie. His actions indicate that he is an agent of influence for Israel, not so much for Russia. Several of his actions were more reckless and more hostile to Russia than the actions of the Obama administration. Anyway, his policies toward Russia are not that different from Hillary's policies. Actually, Pompeo, in many ways, continues Hillary's policies.

The claim that the withdrawal of military aid from Ukraine somehow influences the balance of power in the region was a State department concocted scam from the very beginning. How sniper rifles and anti-tank missiles change the balance of power on the border with the major nuclear power, who has probably second or third military in the world.? They do not.

They (especially sniper rifles) will definitely increase casualties of Ukrainian separatists (and will provoke Russian reaction to compensate for this change of balance and thus increase casualties of the Ukrainian army provoking the escalation spiral ), but that's about it. So more people will die in the conflict while Northrop Grumman rakes the profits.

They also increase the danger of the larger-scale conflict in the region, which is what the USA neocons badly wants to impose really crushing sanctions on Russia. The danger of WWIII and the cost of support of the crumbling neoliberal empire with its outsize military expenditures (which now is more difficult to compensate with loot) somehow escapes the US neocon calculations. But they are completely detached from reality in any case.

I think Russia can cut Ukraine into Western and Eastern parts anytime with relative ease and not much resistance. Putin has an opportunity to do this in 2014 (risking larger sanctions) as he could establish government in exile out of Yanukovich officials and based on this restore the legitimate government in Eastern and southern region with the capital in Kharkiv, leaving Ukrainian Taliban to rot in their own brand of far-right nationalism where the Ukraine identity is defined negatively via rabid Russophobia.

His calculation probably was that sanctions would slow down the Russia recovery from Western plunder during Yeltsin years and, as such, it is not worth showing Western Ukrainian nationalists what level of support in Southern and Eastern regions that they actually enjoy.

My impression is that they are passionately hated by over 50% of the population of this region. And viewed as an occupying force, which is trying to colonize the space (which is a completely true assessment). They are viewed as American stooges, who they are (the country is controlled from the USA embassy in any case).

And Putin's assessment might be wrong, as sanctions were imposed anyways, and now Ukraine does represent a threat to Russia and, as such, is a huge source of instability in the region, which was the key idea of "Nulandgate" as the main task was weakening Russia. In this sense, Euromaidan coup d'état was the major success of the Obama administration, which was a neocon controlled administration from top to bottom.

Also unclear what Dems are trying to achieve. If Pelosi gambit, cynically speaking, was about repeating Mueller witch hunt success in the 2018 election, that is typical wishful thinking. Mobilization of the base works both ways.

So what is the game plan for DemoRats (aka "neoliberal democrats" or "corporate democrats" -- the dominant Clinton faction of the Democratic Party) is completely unclear.

I doubt that they will gain anything from impeachment Kabuki theater, where both sides are afraid to discuss real issues like Douma false flag and other real Trump crimes.

Most Democratic candidates such as Warren, Biden, and Klobuchar will lose from this impeachment theater. Candidates who can gain, such as Major Pete and Bloomberg does not matter that much.

[Jan 24, 2020] It's amazing all the money in the State Department and other intelligence agencies should be attracting the best minds. Yet a bunch of us sitting here watching this from our boring office jobs realize how genuinely stupid US foreign policy has been.

Jan 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Danny , Jan 24 2020 15:11 utc | 25

It's amazing all the money in the State Department and other intelligence agencies should be attracting the best minds. Yet a bunch of us sitting here watching this from our boring office jobs realize how genuinely stupid US foreign policy has been.

A separate Sunni state in West Iraq would be doomed. We need to leave these people alone, we've made enough foolish mistakes and this will get a lot of people killed. That's along with US troops being put in harms way for ridiculous reasons like stealing Syrian oil and now occupying Iraq against their parliaments wishes.

Back in the day you told someone you were American and they wanted to shake your hand and ask you about this place or that. Now they want to spit in our faces

[Jan 23, 2020] An incredible level of naivety of people who still think that a single individual, or even two, can change the direction of murderous US policies that are widely supported throughout the bureaucracy?

Highly recommended!
The deep state clearly is running the show (with some people unexpected imput -- see Trump ;-)
Elections now serve mainly for the legitimizing of the deep state rule; election of a particular individual can change little, although there is some space of change due to the power of executive branch. If the individual stray too much form the elite "forign policy consensus" he ether will be JFKed or Russiagated (with the Special Prosecutor as the fist act and impeachment as the second act of the same Russiagate drama)
But a talented (or reckless) individual can speed up some process that are already under way. For example, Trump managed to speed up the process of destruction of the USA-centered neoliberal empire considerably. Especially by launching the trade war with China. He also managed to discredit the USA foreign policy as no other president before him. Even Bush II.
Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Trailer Trash , Jan 23 2020 18:30 utc | 44
>This is the most critical U.S. election in our lifetime
> Posted by: Circe | Jan 23 2020 17:46 utc | 36

Hmmm, I've been hearing the same siren song every four years for the past fifty. How is it that people still think that a single individual, or even two, can change the direction of murderous US policies that are widely supported throughout the bureaucracy?

Bureaucracies are reactionary and conservative by nature, so any new and more repressive policy Trumpy wants is readily adapted, as shown by the continuing barbarity of ICE and the growth of prisons and refugee concentration camps. Policies that go against the grain are easily shrugged off and ignored using time-tested passive-aggressive tactics.

One of Trump's insurmountable problems is that he has no loyal organization behind him whose members he can appoint throughout the massive Federal bureaucracy. Any Dummycrat whose name is not "Biden" has the same problem. Without a real mass-movement political party to pressure reluctant bureaucrats, no politician of any name or stripe will ever substantially change the direction of US policy.

But the last thing Dummycrats want is a real mass movement, because they might not be able to control it. Instead Uncle Sam will keep heading towards the cliff, which may be coming into view...


Per/Norway , Jan 23 2020 19:31 utc | 62

The amount of TINA worshipers and status quo guerillas is starting to depress me.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE to believe A politician will/can change anything and give your consent to war criminals and traitors?
NO person(s) WILL EVER get to the top in imperial/vassal state politics without being on the rentier class side, the cognitive dissonans in voting for known liars, war criminals and traitors would kill me or fry my brain. TINA is a lie and "she" is a real bitch that deserves to be thrown on the dump off history, YOUR vote is YOUR consent to murder, theft and treason.
DONT be a rentier class enabler STOP voting and start making your local communities better and independent instead.

Per
Norway

Piotr Berman , Jan 23 2020 20:19 utc | 82
The amount of TINA worshipers and status quo guerillas is starting to depress me. <- Norway

Of course, There Is Another Way, for example, kvetching. We can boldly show that we are upset, and pessimistic. One upset pessimists reach critical mass we will think about some actions.

But being upset and pessimistic does fully justify inactivity. In particular, given the nature of social interaction networks, with spokes and hubs, dominating the network requires the control of relatively few nodes. The nature of democracy always allows for leverage takeover, starting from dominating within small to the entire nation in few steps. As it was nicely explained by Prof. Overton, there is a window of positions that the vast majority regards as reasonable, non-radical etc. One reason that powers to be invest so much energy vilifying dissenters, Russian assets of late, is to keep them outside the Overton window.

Having a candidate elected that the curators of Overton window hate definitely shakes the situation with the potential of shifting the window. There were some positive symptoms after Trump was elected, but negatives prevail. "Why not we just kill him" idea entered the window, together with "we took their oil because we have guts and common sense".

From that point of view, visibility of Tulsi and election of Sanders will solve some problems but most of all, it will make big changes in Overton window.